Underground secret chambers had been built beneath Flaming River Castle. Only the core leaders of the Flaming Horn tribe could enter them. Other than Zheng Luo, who was the Elder in charge of this trading area, Shao Xuan also had his own secret chamber.
After Shao Xuan shifted the ‘monster’ into the underground chamber, the few other leaders of the tribe came over to check out the legendary desert monster, though they still could not identify it. However, at least they learned a little about it.
So the monster looks like that.
So it does not breathe, has no organs and no pulse. Apparently, it was like a dried salted fish before it decayed.
Apparently, this monster had shocking strength and was unfazed when their limbs were chopped off. They could even rip out a rib if an arm was lost, according to someone who travelled in the desert.
Essentially, the desert became a place where no trading party would cross. On the other hand, more and more people liked to frequent Flaming River Trading Point and so they received more information.
There were guest houses within the trading point but no caves. Anyone who preferred caves would have to look for one outside the trading area but no one would take that risk. Although it was not absolutely safe within the trading area, at least they were guarded by the Flaming Horns. No one would dare commit crimes in public. And that was enough. They were charged accommodation fees but any tribe with the capability of travelling to this place did not mind this extra cost.
The travellers from far away places all sat together to chat.
To the Flaming Horns, this was good news.
Have fun and talk! You can brag too, there is usually partial truth in bragging. That was how they got more information.
Tribesmen were always secretive about their own matters but often got excited in information regarding other tribes. They’d dig and dig! Although their gossip was usually at the expense of another party, at least they were talking.
Yi Si, who had just arrived, loved to listen to travellers gossiping along with Grasshopper. He did not know much about the tribes here so listening to gossip helped him gain more information.
Zheng Luo had also received all kinds of information. For example, people from the other side of the ocean had begun to appear in the central plans. Although the travellers were not familiar with the situation, Zheng Luo speculated that it was almost like what he guessed.
However, Shao Xuan paid them no heed. Ever since the Hui tribe delivered the ‘monster’, he spent most of his time studying it. He felt like if he could find out even a small secret about the monster, perhaps his questions would be answered.
One day, Gui Ze finished concocting pills made of Veins of the Sky and planned to give a bottle to Shao Xuan. She heard that Shao Xuan’s previous stores had been used up on Caesar for his new eye. However, she looked everywhere and could not find him so she asked Duo Kang who frequented the village and the trading point. “Where’s Shao Xuan?”
“The Grand Elder is in the underground chamber at the trading point,” said Duo Kang.
A few days later.
Ta planned to lead a party out for a hunt and wanted to invite Shao Xuan. He was nowhere to be found in the tribe or trading area.
“Where’s Grand Elder?”
“In the underground chamber at the trading point.”
A few more days later.
“Where’s Grand Elder?”
“Studying the monster in the underground chamber at the trading point.”
Zheng Luo and the rest now knew that if they needed Shao Xuan, they would have to go to the underground chamber beneath the Flaming River.
Zheng Luo did not understand what could come of Shao Xuan studying the monster. However, perhaps he could find out some useful information. If he really could not find anything, he could get the Yi guy over. It was something his ancestor made, he might know something.
However, before Shao Xuan came out, they did not want to disturb him unless it was something urgent.
On this day, Shao Xuanw as in the underground chamber as usual. He had figured out some information these days. He remembered the peculiar, dark and chilling fire seed aura he felt when he opened the door the day he visited the Hui tribe to give them the invitation letter. Right now, the aura still remained on the body, though it had faded.
He had not had a good look at the Hui tribe but now, he realised that the peculiar fire seed aura did not come from the flesh, but its bones!
However, how did the creator of this monster merge the fire seed with its bones? How did the creator turn dead bodies into monsters?
What do bones contain?
Shao Xuan picked up a knife, preparing to cut one open.
At this moment, there was a knock on the stone door.
“What is it?” Shao Xuan opened the door, surprised to see Ao. Usually, Ao would be guarding the village, while Zheng Luo would guard this place. Why would Ao be here? And he looked anxious.
Ao saw the knife in his hand but it was not the time for questions.
“There’s a problem with the Thousand Grain Gold,” said Ao.
When he heard that it was the Thousand Grain Gold, Shao Xuan left his work at the underground chamber and rushed back to the village with Ao.
There were special guards assigned to guard the place where they planted Thousand Grain Gold. The Thousand Grain Gold would compete for resources with other crops, hence they were only planted within a specific area with no other plants nearby. Even a weed could not be seen. The guards were stationed right next to the field. Any suspicious character would be seen immediately
The patch of field with the Thousand Grain Gold was also surrounded by tall wooden poles so they could not be seen from the outside.
The plants were making huge progress, neat rows of grains could be seen growing on the stalls. To prevent insects, animals and ill-intentioned people from ruining the crops, the tribe added fifty more guards to the area to kill insects. It was the most tightly-guarded crop field in the tribe.
The Thousand Grain Gold was important to the Flaming Horns. When they merged with the fire seed, it helped complete the process better. And it had other helpful properties too. It was the tribe’s favourite crop and Ao placed much emphasis on it.
This year’s harvest was much more than in the past. Ao was initially ecstatic but he recently observed something that made him furious.
“We’re nearing harvest period, I check on the crops every day. The day before, I found that a row of grains was missing from one of the plants. I did not know why and I talked to the guards. They said it wasn’t them and I believe it. I told them to guard the place tighter and they did not find anything. But!” Ao’s face darkened. “Yesterday, when I came over, I found another plant with grains missing. I had watched the farmers personally, and tightened security during the night. Yet it happened again. Come and take a look at this, Ah Xuan.”
Shao Xuan went over to see heavy grains hanging off the plants. They were still green as they were not ripe yet.
Ao pointed to a plant. Since these plants were taller than humans, he looked up at the plants to check on their grains. Anyone less familiar with the crops would not have noticed that a portion of the grains had been sliced off.
They were not ripped off but obviously sliced off using a sharp object.
“Is it the ‘Robbers’ again?” Ao was frustrated, not sure who could do this right under their noses. The ‘Robbers’ had a bad history with them.
“I can’t tell for the moment. Maybe yes, maybe no.” Even Shao Xuan did not know.
“Unless it’s someone from the other side of the ocean?” guessed Ao.
“They might not be as skilful as the ‘Robbers’ but it’s possible. There are also many gangs there,” said Shao Xuan.
Since fire seeds had not existed on the other side of the ocean for a long time, the way tribes were organised had changed greatly. Some people maintained their tribal organisations, others grouped together to form special organisations based on shared interests. These organisations consisted of people from different tribes, perhaps they aimed to rob or steal. Of course, there were also organisations that specialised in trade or other types of businesses. There were many groups like that of thieves and robbers so this was a possibility.
Ao’s brows remained tightly furrowed, extremely worried. The grains were not even ripe yet, and it was being stolen. They had no clues at all. If the grains ripened, would the situation worsen? He was not afraid of confrontation, but he was frustrated at the lack of targets. Who would he vent his anger at?
“You were here during the day yesterday?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Yes, I personally watched Qi Qi and the rest applying fertilisers. There were no suspicious people, nor did I notice the cut grains after that.” Ao did not suspect his own tribesman. He was just watching to prevent outsiders from slipping in. Some people could imitate another tribesman’s looks and even aura. Anyone weaker or less observant might not notice. Hence Ao had to personally be there.”
“I’ll guard the area tonight with Caesar,” said Shao Xuan.
“I’ll be here tonight too, I want to see who has been stealing the grains without leaving any traces!” Ao’s knuckles crackled as he clenched his fist and gritted his teeth. “I’ll kill them when I catch the culprit!”