Initially, the Gu shaman wanted to dispatch a few Gu tribesmen whom the Jing tribe was familiar with to accompany Shao Xuan’s group to the Jing tribe. Still, due to the destruction caused by the previous battle, many of the buildings in the tribe had already collapsed, so they had to rebuild their buildings. They had already suffered huge losses, and many of them were either injured or killed, so all he could do was write a message on a linen scroll for Shao Xuan to pass to the Jing tribe.
After Shao Xuan’s group left the Gu tribe, the shaman contemplated for a while and sent a few members of the Ya tribe to bring a letter over to the Jing tribe. The people of the Ya tribe travelled faster through their underground route, and they wouldn’t have to face any fearsome beasts on the way, so perhaps they could arrive at the Jing tribe before Shao Xuan’s group did.
With the Ya tribe there, maybe the Jing tribe would behave more amicably towards the Flaming Horns.
However, the Gu shaman never expected Shao Xuan’s ships to travel so fast, arriving even earlier than the Ya tribesmen.
Although the Ya tribespeople didn’t need to go around mountains or natural barriers to get to the Jing tribe, not everywhere was suitable for digging, especially places near the river. Sometimes they even had to go around an obstacle or rest on the way if they’re tired.
In contrast, Shao Xuan’s group never stopped to rest besides stopping once in a while to put up wooden signs on the riverbank. They travelled nonstop day and night.
After the giant beast was slaughtered, the part of the river near the Gu tribe became more peaceful. Smaller fishes began to swim in the area actively, and not many larger offensive beasts appeared here. The large fish that attacked Bo Luo from before might have been driven to the site by the giant beast.
Travelling downstream, there weren’t any significant geographical changes on land. The riverbanks resembled the parts where the Gu tribe resided, but the woods were denser compared to the Drumming tribe’s territory.
Shao Xuan sat inside the cabin on the ship and sat with his legs crossed. He set the sword on his feet, and there were still bloodstains left on it. This was Shao Xuan’s blood. He was thinking about how he successfully ignited the net back in the Gu tribe. He wanted to test if he could use his own blood to ignite the fire, but he never succeeded. He felt like something was missing, but he didn’t know what.
“Someone’s there!” the people outside shouted.
Shao Xuan also sensed the Jing fire seed nearby, so he set down his sword and walked out from the cabin.
The Jing tribe also lived beside the Flaming River. They didn’t live too close to the river, but they weren’t too far either, just slightly closer to the banks than the Gu tribe.
The Gu shaman once told Shao Xuan that the Jing tribe only migrated here afterwards. He didn’t know where they were before, but they had been here since the disaster from a thousand years ago.
People were staring in their direction from the forest, and there were even sharp sounds of birds chirping, but Shao Xuan’s group knew that those weren’t birds. They were people hiding inside the forest, sending out signals.
As the two ships got close to the shore, the people inside the forest also retreated, but continued to hide in the woods. They observed the two ships with vigilance.
They had never seen ships, so they were more defensive towards foreign tribes.
It was clear that others had settled the land where the ships anchored. There were no tall giant trees there. Besides some smaller wooden stakes, the rest of the land was grass. Even the grass was shorter compared to the ones in the forest.
These little wooden stakes were probably used to tie a raft to the shore. There were rope marks left on the stakes, and there were clear footprints in the dents on the grounds. That was the only reason the grass tilted from their original upright position.
Walking up the riverbank, Shao Xuan lifted his head and looked toward the forest in front of him.
There was a road leading from the riverbanks into the woods. It was only two to three metres wide, but on this dense and grassy field, this road was very conspicuous.
The Gu shaman said that the Jing tribesmen used their nets for fishing in the river. So this was the road they used to go there.
Shao Xuan approached the woods with his people. They didn’t go far into the forest but stood still before it.
“Is this the Jing tribe? We are from the Flaming Horn tribe. We have matters to discuss with you. Please inform the Jing shaman.”
There were definitely other traps in the forest, but Shao Xuan was not afraid of those. He just didn’t want to cause any unnecessary trouble, not to mention he also needed to search for the “eye” from the Jing tribe. It was better to leave an excellent first impression.
After Shao Xuan shouted his message, the forest became quieter, but afterwards, there were a few more bird-chirping sounds. Whooshing sounds came from afar. It was clear that the people went back to deliver his message.
Shao Xuan was not in a rush. He sat on a rock beside the forest and waited while the others looked around. They were checking the difference in the plant species in this area compared to the land upstream.
After about twenty minutes, sounds of footsteps came from a distant place. They even heard low voices of people speaking.
Quite a lot of people came, no fewer than two hundred. It was about the same number as the people on their ships.
The crowd walked closer to them. The road was too narrow, so some people travelled in the forest. They could hear clear sounds of branches snapping under their feet.
Very soon, figures appeared in the forest. The sunlight shone through the woods, and the branches from above cast a shadow down on a section of the road. It was darker in the forest on both sides of the road, so the people who were on the road were the clearest in their view.
Three strong and outstanding warriors stood in front. Perhaps they were always exposed to the sun, so they appeared darker-skinned. The Gu people were already quite brown-skinned, but the Jing people were even darker. Although they were darker, they painted their bodies with refreshing and bright colours such as white, red, blue, yellow, green, etc.
Each of the three Jing warriors in front held a bone or horn weapon in one hand, and a round shield in another, which they placed in front of their chest. Their entire torso was covered, and only their feet and parts above their noses were revealed.
Their black irises contrasted with the white of their eyes could not conceal their anxiety. Maybe they knew that the Flaming Horns were not easy to defeat. Facing such a powerful foreign tribe, it would be strange if they were not defensively prepared.
Their shields were either made from wood or rattan. The Jing people did not have the strength that the Flaming Horns were equipped with, so although shields made from stones, horns, and bones were much sturdier, they were too heavy for them. For tribes that were not as strong, not only could these shields not be utilised to their full potential, they would also become a huge burden for them in battle.
Just by seeing their equipment and gear, Shao Xuan had a basic idea about their strength. He then looked at the people behind the three warriors.
There was a slim, middle-aged man standing there with eyes looking daggers towards Shao Xuan’s direction. When he looked over, his gaze felt as realistic as a sharp blade, and its deadliness caught them with surprise. Besides this, this middle aged man walked with a majestic pride and carried the characteristics of a leader. He was obviously different from the rest of the group.
The Jing shaman?
Shao Xuan thought about the Gu shaman’s words and looked towards the area in that man’s forehead, between his brows.
He didn’t see any third eye that the Gu shaman mentioned, but only a straight line there.
‘That should be him,’ Shao Xuan thought.
The three people who walked in front stayed close to the middle-aged man and stopped about twenty metres away from Shao Xuan’s group. Not just them, all the Jing people who followed them here appeared anxious, defensive, and uneasy.
That middle aged man gently patted the three warriors in front of him. After a slight hesitation, the three warriors tilted their bodies and let him pass by. Their gaze continued to follow Shao Xuan’s movements, just in case if Shao Xuan’s group was to make a move, they would rush over immediately to protect the middle-aged man.
This weather was already extremely hot, but it felt hotter downstream than upstream. That was probably why Shao Xuan saw some people wearing less on their way here downstream. Most of them didn’t wear much and exposed most of their skin to the sunlight. The Gu tribe even wore some linen cloth and ornaments with net designs, but the Jing people were not that complicated. Most of them who came over were basically half-naked. They only covered their cloth and their feet for protection.
It wouldn’t matter much if they drew anything else on their bodies, but what the Jing people drew on themselves were eyes!
The Hui tribe liked cloud tattoos and the Gu tribe liked net tattoos. As for the Jing tribe, they liked “eye” tattoos. Their totem looked exactly like three vertically oriented eyes. Most of the Jing totemic warriors drew eyes as their tattoos. They were quite skilled at drawing. The different shades of colour gave the drawing a faded look. It looked like their bodies were covered with countless eyes, the bright colours contrasted with their dark skin highlighted the eyes even more.
People who had trypophobia would probably feel disgusted and anxious if they saw these people. They wouldn’t be able to look at them directly.
They didn’t wear much, but they had plenty of ornaments on their bodies.
They had ornaments hanging from their ears, their necks, their wrists, waists, and even their feet! These were all made from ground eye stones, and combined with the eyes drawn on their bodies, looking at them would fill you with the terror of being stared at by countless eyes.
“You are the Flaming Horns?” the middle-aged man who walked out asked them.
“That’s right,” Shao Xuan could tell they already knew who they were. He just didn’t know which rumour they heard. Seeing their anxious looks and their connection with the Gu tribe, the Jing tribe’s perception of them was probably based on false rumours. Perhaps their perception was influenced by the Ya tribe’s gossip.
“What business do you have here?” the person asked.
“We just came from the Gu tribe and we have a few things to ask.” Shao Xuan took out the linen scroll that the Gu shaman wrote for him and tossed it over.
The man caught the scroll and looked suspiciously at Shao Xuan. His eyes stared at the scroll for two seconds before he unrolled it. He was probably checking if there was something bad on it, maybe something like poison.
However, after seeing what was written on the scroll, his tightened expression became relaxed. “Zhen wrote this?”
The Gu shaman’s name was Zhen. Shao Xuan nodded after hearing the Jing shaman say this name.
The Gu shaman had already written most of the relevant information that he needed to know on the scroll. After the man looked at the scroll, he waved his hand at the people behind him to relax, telling them there was no need to be anxious. Then, he turned towards Shao Xuan. “Please follow me.”
This meant he agreed to welcome Shao Xuan into their tribe for a friendly discussion.
Shao Xuan only brought half his people in while leaving the rest of them outside.