Once Caesar’s condition stabilised, Shao Xuan went to the trading point every day to check for the arrival of any new information. Since the banquet, all the major tribes remained in contact and exchanged information.
After receiving news of movement at the desert and the sea, Flaming Horn also increased the intensity of their patrol duties. Tribesmen arrived at the trading point every day, some of them young tribesmen leaving the tribe to explore as they were very curious about the famous trading point; others were there for business. Business was thriving at the trading point, Shao Xuan heard that the trading parties who bought animal hide here could sell them for double the price at other trading points.
Production of the Drumming Tribe’s water moon stones was high during the moon’s brightest nights. These stones required moonlight and the fuller the moon, the more efficient the production process was, resulting in better quality stones. That was why the tribe had already started to work overtime days before the full moon arrived. They had not rested since. Everyone lived upside-down schedules in order to work through the night.
Most of the stones they produced were used to repay their debts to the Flaming Horns. That was why even thieves would not get much if they tried to come steal the harvest.
By the time the debts were cleared, the Drumming tribesmen were very experienced in making the water moon stones and tasted the benefits of merging with the fire seed. At least they would not have to worry about ambushes during full moon every year. Their harvest was not completely tied to the supermoon. They did not have to guard the Water Moon Canal as tightly either, and naturally could divert more resources to guard other places.
The Rain tribe’s lives had slowly stabilised too. A portion of the tribesmen entered the Flaming River Trading Point and rented accommodations along with fixed stalls. All they had to do was spread out their tribe’s goods like cloth and pottery, then wait for customers to come to the trading point. They did not have to worry about robberies anymore. At the tribe, they had cleared land for crop fields not far away from the river. They did not worry about irrigation problems either because the Flaming River was large enough to accommodate for their needs. Even if the other streams dried up, the Flaming River would not. Their standards of living improved when they no longer had to worry about food and water.
Compared to the beginning, more and more tribes frequented the Flaming River Trading Point. They did not have to go visit other tribes anymore. All they had to do was to meet at this point of congregation. It was the largest trading point along the Flaming River and one of the largest points in the region excluding the one in the central plains.
Of course, every trading party that arrived found the architecture more memorable than the hide and meat sold here.
Although this place had stricter regulations than other trading points, every trading party wanted to visit a second time after their first.
Even Zheng Luo was very proud to watch the trading point grow and prosper.
Before, Zheng Luo had wanted to name this place as Flaming River City because that was how the slave masters on the other side of the river named their cities. However, he did not like following the costumes of the slave masters, hence was very hesitant to follow suit. Even if it was just a name, he refused to imitate them. This was how much the tribesmen resented the slave masters.
“Town,” said Shao Xuan. “You can call it ‘Flaming River Town’. A town can also be a place of trade. And this place will not just be for trading as it will expand more in the future.”
“Alright! Then this place will have another name in the future, it will be ‘Flaming River Town’! Mm, I’ll tell everyone at the meeting later.” Zheng Luo was very satisfied with this name.
Since then, the Flaming River Trading Point was also called Flaming River Town and news of this name soon spread among many different visitors.
Shao Xuan stood on the highest floor of the Flaming River Castle, looking over the entire trading point. “It is a small trading point now but in the future, it will definitely be much larger.”
A trading party travelled along a narrow path. Last year, this had been a patch of forest but since the establishment of the trading point, the guests who attended the banquet had cleared a path during their visit to allow for carriages to pass.
Soon after, more and more people came to the trading point and no plants could grow amidst the heavy traffic. Some larger tribes had tamed animals pulling their carriages too. Therefore there were no pebbles along the path either for their convenience. This path was much flatter and smoother than other parts of the forest.
As traffic increased, the road became more famous. Although it was a convenient path, it was risky too because robbers would hide in the area to ambush travellers.
Timid travellers rarely took this path. Only people who were confident in their own abilities against the robbers passed through.
At this moment, the trading party along the path was from a medium-sized tribe in the central plains. While it was not as powerful as the largest tribes in the area, it was still stronger than most tribes.
These people were tall and muscular, their exposed chests revealing hard muscles, skin tanned from constant year-long travelling. They held stone clubs in their arms, which were all defined and muscular. These people radiated power.
It was still warm during this time of the year. It was noon and the sun was up in the sky. Their simple linen clothes were drenched in sweat and many just took their tops off to wipe themselves, then draping their shirts over a shoulder. They discussed in their coarse-sounding language as they talked about the Flaming River Trading Point.
They had just left the trading point and bought a lot of animal hide. Now, they were on the way towards their own tribe.
“I’m impressed, the animal hides from the trading point were indeed of great quality!”
“Of course! Those are fearsome beast hides!”
“I heard you can wear these hides even during this time of the year? And it’s a cooling material?”
“That’s why it’s expensive. Going to the trading point to exchange for these hides at this point of the year is a good choice. Haha, our children won’t even feel the cold this winter!”
The group laughed heartily, not the least bit worried that they would be heard. While they looked nonchalant, they occasionally watched their surroundings out of their peripheral visions. Some of them walking on the outer ring of the group were in charge of standing guard while they had also sent scouts beforehand. These scouts had not found anything unusual. However, they were still vigilant.
Experienced travellers were used to robberies. Since they left the trading point, they had already killed three waves of robbers.
The group consisted of approximately three hundred people. In the middle was a wooden wagon with large wooden crates tied to it. Those were the goods they received at the trading point, including fearsome beast hide, dried fearsome beast meat, fearsome beast horns and bone weapons etc. This was why they were willing to travel so far to the trading point.
Their tribe was situated in a place with cold winters. The insulation properties of regular animal fur were limited. Totemic warriors could make do even with thin fur but their children could not. The young often fell sick during winter. While the adults in the tribe, both men and women, were all muscular and fit, their children were still very weak. Child mortality spiked during their cold winters and even the shaman could not do anything other than saying it was a test for the children.
After some time, they found that fearsome beast hide was effective in keeping out the cold and therefore started to collect it. However, most of the fearsome beasts were found in the mountainous Fearsome Beast Forest region. The central plains barely had any, and other places had even fewer unless the tribes reared their own.
Yet how could they risk going to the Fearsome Beast Forest? First, it was far away. Second, it was risky. The chief did not agree to let them take such risks.
When the Flaming Horns were at the forest, they did not bring a lot of hides out to trade. Situated far from everyone else, no one knew much about them until the establishment of the trading point. As more and more fearsome beast hides were traded by the tribesmen within the central plains, news of the place spread. However, the prices were high so they only came during warmer seasons as they heard that the hides would be cheaper.
They were extremely satisfied with their haul from today, discussing their return next year. Although they wanted to visit more often, they were too far away and it took too long to come. There were also more robbers these days and they had to risk injuries every visit.
As they spoke, the person in front suddenly halted. Everyone stopped talking and grew alert.
Only the sound of birds chirping could be heard.
The winds blowing from the front brought with it a hint of blood. The people at the back looked in front to see that about a hundred metres ahead of the group was a person sitting on a boulder by the road.
This person was alone but they could sense that this was a dangerous person. He was larger than two of them. If he stood up, his height would be enough to intimidate anyone.
Not just that, they saw strange totemic patterns all over his greenish-grey skin. His clenched fish was larger than their faces and there was dried blood on it. At his feet were about ten dead bodies strewn on the ground. They were all dead but not from a sharp weapon. All he used was his fist.
Before they approached, they could sense the killing intent radiating from his body. The person looked up with a glare as fierce and sharp as an axe, as if he was about to kill someone in the next second. Many in the group clenched their muscles.
Even the vultures attracted by the corpses rested in the trees nearby and did not approach.
The group did not stop or change direction because of this. They sent a portion of people to test the waters but the man remained silent, not even looking at them.
They were not upset by this, instead heaving a small sigh of relief. They met all kinds of people when they travelled. There were many friendly-looking chatty people who were actually snakes- they would rather meet this sort of silent, ‘I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you’ person. This sort of person would not do anything as long as you did not provoke them first.
They were a large group and confident enough to defeat him. However, a conflict would definitely result in unnecessary injuries and deaths. They must avoid this whenever possible.
Based on their experience, the corpses looked like the kind of robbers who ambushed their victims.
Sigh, didn’t they know how to read the room? To know what sort of people they mustn't touch? If you don’t even know that, why did you become a robber? That’s just looking for death. Therefore they got what they deserved.
The leader of the group retracted his gaze and gestured for everyone to hurry along the path. While they remained vigilant, until they travelled far away, the other guy did not even look at them. After everyone passed, the man crushed a body’s head with his foot.
The trading party hurried on.
When the group disappeared from view and no sound could be heard from them, the murderous glare suddenly turned from a sharp axe to its soft wooden handle.
The person got up from the rock. His back bent, he looked into the forest and said respectfully, “Master, they’re gone!”
There was a rustling and a person stepped out from the bushes. This person was clad in grey clothing. He was of average stature and did not look very strong. He elegantly patted away the bits of grass on his clothing. Compared to the muscle next to him, he looked like a child.
After he left the forest, he bent four fingers as his thumb touched the inner joints of each finger, as if counting. “We’ll arrive in five days.”
When he was about to leave, his eyes darted at the bodies. If he had come alone, he would have died a long time ago. Thank goodness he had his slave!
The aristocrats had a saying: check for the dog before hitting the owner!
If you can’t beat the dog, are you sure you want to provoke the owner?