The Hui tribe was probably the place closest to the great mountain eagles. Nowhere else in the world, one could find so many of them in a place.
Shao Xuan’s knowledge of the eagles was just limited to what he had heard from others and his experience raising Chacha but Chacha had a different childhood from them. Over here, he would be able to understand them a bit more.
Shao Xuan followed the shaman and chief back into the cave.
The cave was lit up by glowing gemstones and water moon stones, there was no need for torches.
Gu La explained why Shao Xuan was here and the two had the same reaction as him. They thought Shao Xuan was here to seek help, they didn’t expect him to be passing out invitations.
“Before the winter season, our expedition team heard about the Flaming Horn boat and the trading point,” recalled the chief.
They didn’t think that the Flaming Horn tribe were doing well then, setting up a trading point was a rather easy task. Now they have reason to believe that this trading point was different from what they expected.
During that time, the Hui people had thought about visiting the Flaming Horn tribe to send some resources. They had just moved so the winter would be tough for them. However, their messenger met the boat from the Flaming Horn tribe which rejected their offer and even invited them to the trading point saying they were doing well and didn’t need their help. They even gave the messenger a map.
As winter approached, the Hui tribe didn’t head back.
“We were talking about Flaming Horn this morning. We wanted to send a team to follow the map you gave, who knew you would come here,” said the shaman.
Shao Xuan scanned the room, other than the shaman and the chief, he knew a few others here but there were some he had never seen before. From the way they spoke and acted, they were probably highly ranked leaders here.
There was no way they expected his arrival here yet all of them were gathered in this meeting room here.
“What happened?” asked Shao Xuan.
The shaman didn’t expect Shao Xuan to catch on so quickly. He turned to look at He She.
He She nodded and stayed behind to stop people from entering.
The shaman brought Shao Xuan deep into the cave. There were smaller rooms throughout the place. Some were storage areas, others were meeting rooms. Many of the doors were wooden here unlike the stone door back in his tribe. Would normal people be able to push the stone doors open?
They stopped at one of the doors. The shaman untied the knot and pushed open the door.
Before the chief even opened the door, Shao Xuan had a weird feeling. There wasn’t anyone inside but there was something like the fire seed. It felt foreign as if it was different from normal fire seeds. The fused fire seeds of the Drumming and Rain tribe didn’t feel like this too.
The “Robbers” and the people from the other side of the sea had this aura.
Different tribes had different fire seeds, which radiated different auras. Some had a burning sensation like the Flaming Horn one while others gave a cooling sensation like the Rain or Drumming tribe fire seeds.
But this aura inside was different, it wasn’t burning hot like Flaming Horn or as cool as the Rain tribe’s. It felt darker and gloomier.
With a fire seed aura like that, Shao Xuan was sure he hadn’t met any tribesmen like that. It was so cold and dark.
The door was pushed open. Without the thick wooden door, the aura felt even stronger. Other than the weird feeling it gave, there was an unpleasant odour to it too.
Shao Xuan could see the insides of the room now.
On the floor, there was a wooden plank that was about three meters long and two meters wide. On top of it was a person lying down.
No, to be accurate it was the shape of a human. There were some obvious differences between a human and whatever that was there and Shao Xuan couldn’t hear its breathing.
A dead body?
Shao Xuan walked up to the plank to get a closer look.
The “person” looked shrivelled up, like a raisin.
Its face was deformed from the lack of water. The features were less defined now with the eyes taken out.
“This is...?” Shao Xuan looked at the Hui tribe members.
“This is something we brought back from the desert,” explained the chief.
They had eagles all year round so it was convenient for them to go to a lot of places. They heard that something was happening in the desert last year so they sent some people there and found these peculiar “people”.
“We lost many of our own men and could only bring back this one.” The chief’s chest tightened when he thought about how difficult it was to capture this one.
“They don’t feel pain or fear. We don’t know if they are dead or alive. And they are very violent,” said the chief.
Shao Xuan remembered what Yang Sui said about the desert. Maybe this was what he was referring to.
“It was like this when you brought it back?” asked Shao Xuan.
“There were some changes but it was mostly like this. It started rotting when we brought it back. Putting it in the freezer didn’t help, now it’s decaying faster and faster,” said the chief.
If any other Flaming Horn warrior came instead of Shao Xuan, they probably wouldn’t have said so much.
“We tried everything but we still can’t stop it.” Every tribe had their ways to preserve meat but it was no use. The “person” continued to rot at an even faster speed. At this rate, soon enough, it would just be a pile of rotten meat.
The reason why Shao Xuan thought this person’s features were blurry was because it had started to rot.
The shaman sighed, “Not only that, but I also keep feeling a weird fire seed aura. It’s quite faint but it is there. It has gotten even fainter since it came here.”
“Are they created by the Rock Hill City people?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Should be, I can’t think of anyone else that would make this.”
“Let’s hope that they made this without the intention of using it on tribespeople,” said the shaman. The tribespeople always treated the slave masters as enemies. However, the slave masters had or owned many things the tribespeople wanted such as golden weapons and skills.
“Maybe they had the tribes on the other side of the sea in mind,” said Shao Xuan, “Rock Hill City and them have a grudge against each other. I think the Rock Hill City people prepared for the disaster that struck us. Everything they did was to prepare for the disaster.”
Since the Hui tribe didn’t hide anything from Shao Xuan, he was also willing to share information with them. Half of the Flaming Horn population came from the other side of the sea, so they had a complicated relationship with the slave masters. Shao Xuan told them everything he knew and added in his guesses.
There were a lot more slave masters on the other side. With the two lands closer to each other now, their first instinct was to be alert of them. Shao Xuan had heard before that the slave masters on both sides hated each other. That would be the best for the tribespeople, they wouldn’t need to participate in this war.
With such a thought, the Hui tribe people felt comforted.
Shao Xuan stayed in the Hui tribe for two days before moving on to the Tianshan tribe. He didn’t face such a warm welcome as he did in the Hui tribe but it was fine, he was only there to pass the invitation to them.
After his tasks in the grass fields were done, Shao Xuan headed back home. He met some of those that were coming back from the bigger tribes on his way back.
As Shao Xuan thought about the weird monsters in the desert and the upcoming banquet, the invitations that were sent out into the world.
Many tribes heard about the banquet the Flaming Horn tribe was holding. To get an actual seat they would need to receive an invitation from them. Without an invitation, they would technically still be able to attend the banquet but they would be too embarrassing so the tribes spent the past few days hoping that they’ll get invited by the tribe.
In the Flaming River region, in a small gap between the trees on a rather plain mountain, someone poked their head out from time to time to look at the sky.
That was where the Zhi tribe was located.
Other than the warriors standing guard and some that headed to search for food, most of the tribe members stayed in the tribe. They were a small tribe with not even a hundred members so they had to be careful. The number of times they showed themselves to the world was far lesser than the number of times they washed their faces.
Previously, they would have skipped every event possible but now they were looking forward to an invitation.
The trade before winter gave them a taste of how great life could be and they wanted more.
The chief, Abuli, went on the twentieth circle around his house for the day. He sat impatiently at the door and split open a dried fruit as long as half of his arm. As it was dry, it split open rather easily. There was a dry white cotton-like thing inside.
He took the white fluff out and rolled them together then he rubbed it on the crystal.
Some rough edges on the crystal became smooth after some rubbing.
This was a technique found by the ancestors of the Zhi tribe. Only the Zhi tribe knew about this technique.
As he rubbed, Abuli heard something.
The surrounding mountains made it hard to differentiate where the sound was coming from.
Yodeling made it easier to listen through the echoes of the mountains.
Abuli stopped rubbing the crystal and went towards the source, so did a few other tribe members too.
Soon enough, Abuli came back smiling with an animal skin scroll in this hand. “This is it! It’s animal skin! Real animal skin!” He took a whiff of the scroll and said, “Yes, this part must be near its rear.”