Inside the Flaming River Trading Point, the Flaming Horn warriors who were assigned to the task of welcoming the other tribes checked their invitation cards first before leading them to their assigned spots where they would first rest.
Shao Xuan had already told them about the location each tribe was assigned to in the trading point. Even if they could not remember it, they were at least able to tell roughly which direction each tribe should go. When they reached the location, the tribes would see a sign that would lead them to their assigned location.
Today was Kun Tu’s turn to perform this task. When the Mang tribe and Eight Limbs tribe arrived, Kun Tu made a rough estimate on how many people there were and led them into the trading area.
Recently, due to the increase in the number of tribes that came, the number of guards also increased. If people who weren’t invited or led into the trading area tried to barge in, they would immediately be attacked by the guards in the area. The Flaming Horn tribe would not show mercy under such circumstances.
Even before the people from the Mang tribe and Eight Limbs tribe entered the trading area, they could clearly hear the sounds made by the people inside and smell the food that they were cooking inside. Before this group arrived, many others who were invited had already arrived.
If they walked further in from the gate of the trading point, they could see two stone trays on the side of the road full of roasted food.
When the people from the Mang tribe and Eight Limbs tribe passed by here, there were people moving food onto the stone trays. The freshly roasted food was steaming hot and the smell drifted towards the teams that came by.
“Anything served on trays in the trading point is free to be enjoyed, you can take as much as you like,” Kun Tu introduced them.
The people from the Mang and Eight Limbs tribe hesitated. After they spent so much time rushing here, they didn’t get to enjoy any meals on the way. Now that they smelled the delicious food, they were hungry. The food they had in the morning before they had departed was already long digested. They could even hear their stomachs growling with hunger.
If the food on the trays were something different, they would have eaten it. But now, the food that was displayed on the trays were all insects!
This was not because they never ate these, but rather, they had considered themselves broken away from their primitive barbaric state. Unless they were on long-distance expeditions or under circumstances where they had no other choice, they were very particular about their food, so they rarely encountered bugs on their dining table, especially those in higher ranks. Their food would always go through a lot of processing before it arrived at their plate. They couldn’t believe the first thing they saw here was a large plate of grilled insects.
Even though they were mentally prepared before they arrived, when they actually encountered such a situation, they felt extremely disturbed.
If this was really the main dish of the feast, then they would only say “Haha” to the Flaming Horn tribespeople and leave right away, not even staying for another moment because it was not worth their time.
We didn’t come here from miles away to just eat bugs with you!
Those bugs were grilled to a toasty-red colour. Some mysterious fragrant substance was sprinkled on top of those bugs. Those were bugs too! They were even longer than half an arms-length!
Qu Ce looked at the pile of grilled insects on the tray and thought that he should grab one to taste if he passed by. After all, they came all the way here to the Flaming Horn tribe. They should try something new or else it would be a waste to have come all the way here.
A few young men who followed Qu Ce also grabbed a few insects from the tray. Only the person who was leading their team hesitated and didn’t touch it at all. His face was stern and he seemed unmoved by the food in front of him.
Not long after the Mang tribe and Eight Limbs tribe arrived, the people from the Zhi tribe came over slowly. Although they remained as vigilant as before, they appeared much calmer.
The guard at the gate also recognised Abuli and the others, but he still checked his invitation card before leading him into the trading area.
The sparkling crystal necklaces displayed on Abuli’s neck were indeed very eye-catching. People who saw it looked over a couple more times.
Feeling the gaze from all around him, Abuli moved his neck unnaturally and straightened his back. So this is what it feels like to be the centre of everyone’s attention. It feels pretty cool.
As they passed by the two large trays, the people from the Zhi tribe who were still restrained
Looked over as if their eyes were glued onto the trays.
What more should they care about if there was stuff to eat? Food was the most important matter.
To them, having food to eat was a good thing. It didn’t matter whether the food was of a different type or taste. Those came after. For people who were hungry most of the year, how could they care more about these particulars?
They belonged to a tribe that always lacked food, and hunger was already a norm in their tribe. The people from the Zhi tribe didn’t feel at all disturbed by the insects. In their tribe, it was common for them to eat insects raw, of course they’d be fine with eating these roasted ones.
Time to eat!
Abuli was the first to grab a handful of those insects from the tray. Those who followed behind him also rushed over and their hands all reached for the tray.
In addition to their food craving, the Zhi tribe was also very curious about those roasted insects on the large tray. They had never seen those insects, not even one. The one that Abuli was holding in his hands was as long as his arm, with spiky limbs and a hideous face. Although its sharp open jaws were burnt, it did not appear any less terrifying as when it was alive.
But this did not affect Abuli’s appetite. After the insect’s strong hindlegs were pulled apart, its juicy flesh could be sucked out.
Abuli was not sure whether he was overthinking, but he felt that the meat from these insects tasted a lot better than any insects they caught in the mountains and forests before. A wave of warmth flowed within him, relieving all the tiredness he felt. This was better than what they usually had but still could not compare to the meat of fearsome beasts.
“Delicious!” It even smelled good.
After their first bite, the people from the Zhi tribe went over for seconds. After filling both their hands with these insects, they filled more into the spaces between their elbows.
Abuli continued to chew on the insects as the Flaming Horn warrior led the way. In his heart, he calculated how much insects he could trade for with the Flaming Horn tribe after the feast was over. Insects were cheaper than fierce beasts. He could probably trade a crystal the same size for a lot of insects.
The Flaming Horn tribespeople were not stingy with these insects. They were all over their farms so the insects were swatted down by the guards with giant fly swatters. The warm spring and blooming flowers was a symbol of nature’s recovery, and the growing crops in the farms attracted more flying insects than before. Especially recently because the better the crops grew, the more flies they attracted. Every day, the insects swatted by the warriors were arranged into piles, the green ducks had also grown fatter because of them. Recently the ducks had even begun to lay eggs.
The Flaming Horn tribespeople had also eaten these insects, and they felt that these insects could be easily obtained, so having a large supply of these insects wouldn’t make them lose any face. This was how these insects came to be here. Shao Xuan also joked about it, saying, “This can also be considered a seasonal dish.”
After he finished eating an insect, Abuli looked around and noticed that there was a huge difference in the trading point compared to the last time he came. Most of the wooden architecture had been replaced with stone ones. They looked sturdier and taller, and many houses were even painted with colour. The stone plate beside the road was even carved into the shape of a ferocious beast. Just by being there, it added a little more fierceness to the entire place.
The spot the Zhi tribe was assigned to was close to other smaller tribes in the Flaming River region. They were farther away from the centre of the trading point. Even if they were assigned to a spot closer to the centre of the trading point, they wouldn’t be willing to go there. All the tribes there were powerful and large. Just sitting there would make them feel uncomfortable. The aura there would make them feel suppressed, as if by the power of a fire seed. It would make them unable to sit peacefully. The Flaming Horn tribe’s arrangement was just what they wanted.
“Umm, when can we start the feast..no...when does the banquet start? It’s already time,” Abuli pointed at the two crescents drawn on his invitation card and asked the Flaming Horn warrior who led them to where they were.
“Either tomorrow or the day after because some teams from other tribes are not here yet. Our shaman and the chief said to wait. We will notify everyone when the time comes,” the Flaming Horn warrior said.
“That’s a long time more,” Abuli resented those tribes that were not punctual, but after realising that he did not need to worry about food here, his unhappiness disappeared. After he thought for a while, he pointed around him and asked, “Is this where the banquet is going to be held?”
“Of course not,” the Flaming Horn warrior smirked and pointed to the centre of the trading point. “The banquet is going to be held at the Flaming River Castle.”
Abu Li looked over where the warrior pointed from the depths of the window. The tall stone building they saw outside the trading point should be the so-called “Flaming River Castle.” Last winter, the building was still under construction, but now, it stood there in its complete form.
After estimating the size of the Flaming River Castle, Abuli noticed that it was about the size of the entire Zhi tribe’s grounds! He was too nervous the last time they came so he didn’t bother to take a closer look. He only realised now after he looked closer.
On the highest floor of the Flaming River Castle, a giant flag with the totem sign of two fiery horns waved in the wind.