With Duo Kang’s shout, all the traders within Flaming River Trading Point and its resident sellers packed up their stalls and left.
They closed the windows and doors, then the crowd flooded out of the three exits bringing everything with them.
Some people did not have a clear sense of what a king beast was but sensed the urgency on everyone’s terrified faces.
The Flaming Horn patrol and entrance guards were all called to the square within Flaming River Castle for Zheng Luo to give instructions.
Even with Zheng Luo and Duo Kang in charge here, everyone was terrified.
“Boss, what do we do now?” Duo Kang asked Zheng Luo urgently.
Zheng Luo could not make a decision in time either. Who knew this would happen?
“Let’s see if we receive any news from the tribe.” Zheng Luo had already sent someone to send a message to the tribe. They would send people over immediately. “No matter what, panicking now is useless. We must guard the place to prevent anyone from taking advantage of us.”
Duo Kang directed his men to clear the trading area. Most people would definitely leave. The ones who stayed must know what to expect. The Flaming Horns couldn’t let them run around unsupervised during critical moments either, hence they were restricted to an area.
Very soon, Gui He arrived with his men. He almost flipped his table when he heard the news. The thing they were most worried about had happened.
“Where’s Shao Xuan and the rest?” Duo Kang had been waiting for him. The year they encountered the salt beast at the salt mines, Shao Xuan was the one who helped them survive. The most trustworthy person was not the current chief, Gui He, nor the former chief, Zheng Luo. Grand Elder Shao Xuan was who they needed.
Everyone with the same experience also looked at Gui He for news of Shao Xuan’s whereabouts.
“They’re… not back yet.” Gui He did not have any experience against a king beast and he could not make reckless decisions now. “We’re now facing the king stoneworm. The only person in the entire Flaming Horn tribe who has truly faced the king stoneworm in close proximity is actually Ah Xuan alone.”
“What do we do now? They’re still in the forest and aren’t back yet. If the king stoneworm heads towards the trading area, should we fight? Or avoid it?” Duo Kang was frustrated.
They knew the consequences of fighting a king beast. Casualties would be high. If they dodged it, then they must give up on this trading area.
They had put in too much effort into this trading area, no one wanted to abandon it just like that.
“Prepare for both,” said Gui He. “We’ll have to stop it if we have to. And if we can’t defend anymore, we’ll give it up.”
They could not sacrifice too many lives just for this trading point.
“I hope the king stoneworm is just passing by and will leave quickly. Please don’t head in our direction,” muttered Guang Yi.
At this moment, someone said, “If only we have the fire seed…”
He did not finish the sentence but everyone understood.
A fire seed was still intimidating to king beasts. It would still be effective, plus the Flaming Horn’s fire seed was stronger than many small and medium-sized tribes.
However, the primitive fire seed was gone. This was the price they paid, there was no perfect outcome to this. They had made the decision to merge.
“But didn't the Grand Elder say that the fire seed exists wherever we are? The fire seed aura can be strong if many of us group together. Maybe that will be useful?” offered Kun Tu, who was standing nearby.
“You make sense.” Zheng Luo looked in the direction of where the king beast appeared. The aura was not heading in its direction but it was not leaving either. Its presence was getting stronger. Even less sensitive people could feel their stomachs churning.
There was a shrill call. Gui He pointed in the sky. “There!”
A white flash flew past them. It was Gui He’s snow falcon.
Without Cha Cha, they had to send this falcon up. It was safer for it to keep watch from the air and observe the king stoneworm’s movements.
As they discussed, the crowd running out of the trading area ran in the opposite direction from where the king beast appeared. Of course, there were also people who took advantage of this to start robbing traders. Everyone was carrying more stuff with them and it was very tempting.
“Can’t believe they’re still robbing people at a moment like this.” In the air, Wu He watched the panicked crowds while riding his long-winged bird.
However, anyone who could make it here was not weak either. They could even fight fearsome beasts in a rage. When someone tried to rob them, they showed no mercy. Are you trying to take my stuff? Hmmph, I’m going to rip your arm off!
Wu He patted the long-winged bird and gestured for it to fly towards the king beast. Although he was not bold enough to stay in the Flaming River Trading Point, he wanted to check the king beast out from the sky.
The bird cooed unwillingly. It did not want to fly there. No animal wanted to get closer to a king beast. They could barely run in time, why would they head towards it? You’d die!
“Not so near, we’ll just watch from afar. I’m sure you want to see what this king beast looks like, right?” On the other side, Wu He used to trek deep into the forest with other ‘Changle’ people when he was young. He had felt the aura of one king beast before. Although he never saw it, he remembered the feeling felt, as if his soul was about to jump out of his body.
He remembered how the old man with him warned to stay as far as possible from king beasts unless he wanted to die. Regardless, anyone who would head towards a king beast was a true warrior!
That was no compliment. A ‘true warrior’ had the same meaning as ‘brainless idiot’.
Now, Wu He encountered one more after just arriving on this side. He sighed at this luck. He did not want to die nor did he want to be a ‘true warrior’ so he left the trading area, unlike Yi Si, on his bird.
Wu He, like all other ‘Changle’ people, was a very curious person, yet at the same time timid. That was why he would not approach danger but peek at it from afar to satisfy his curiosity, then go brag about it to the other ‘Changle’ people next time.
“Eh, Flaming Horn has a bird too!” Wu He saw the flash of white flying from the Flaming River castle towards where the king beast appeared.
Wu He patted the long-winged bird’s neck and looked down. “Did you see that? That small bird isn’t even afraid, so what are you afraid of?”
“Coo--” The long-winged bird cooed resentfully.
Other people might not understand but Wu He knew what it meant.
The long-winged bird was trying to say that the bird from Flaming River Castle might be small but it was much quicker than them.
Although the long-winged bird was unwilling, it had to obey its master so it flapped its wings to head towards the king beast.
They could see a cleared path passing through the forest. There was not a single person in sight, not even a bird or animal. The king beast was indeed the top of the food chain. Every animal had run in the opposite direction.
“What kind of king beast is it?” Wu He looked down curiously until he saw a patch of grey forest.
Yep, it was grey-white!
The long-winged bird was already shivering. Even if it was not going to encounter the king beast from high up in the air, it felt suffocated by the king beast’s aura.
It did not dare approach, instead circling the area.
Everything in front was completely grey-white.
“They’ve… turned to rock?” Wu He was shocked.
This large patch of forest had turned to rock!
As they flew around the rock forest, Wu He finally saw the king beast who had caused all this commotion.
This king beast looked like a giant wriggling worm. It was not grey-white like the forest but instead resembled molten rock.
Wu He had been to a volcano before. That volcanic mouth had molten rock flowing out all year-long, not the bright-red lava seen during an eruption but a kind of molten grey. That was what the worm’s colour resembled.
This place was not as scorching as the volcanic mouth though. While the weather was supposed to be warm, he felt an eerie chill as he approached the area giving him goosebumps.
Wu He did not approach, merely watching from afar. As the king beast wriggled across the ground, there was a huge rumbling. All the solidified objects, including trees and soils, were flattened into a smooth stone trail. There were even ridges on the path left behind by the wriggling movement.
It seemed to move without hindrance at all. It went wherever it wanted.
Could the Flaming Horns really stop it if it wanted to head towards Flaming River Trading Point?
But Wu He was just here for fun. He just wanted to watch the show. He was even looking forward to the action if they fought.
But the king beast did not seem like it was going to head towards the trading point. It wriggled around in circles, sometimes lifting half its body off the ground and spewing out stone powder. It had already flattened a huge area of the forest by now. The grey-white area expanded as it continued to move around. The forest was turning to stone at a rate fast enough to be detected by the naked eye.
Wu He shuddered while the bird’s flapping rhythm turned irregular.
“What is it even doing?” Wu He could not discern the king beast’s intentions.
The long-winged bird cooed worriedly- though softly as if it was afraid of being heard. It wanted to leave as soon as possible.
“Wait a little longer, I want to watch.” Wu He was even more curious. There must be a reason for this king beast’s sudden appearance, right? Was it looking for food? Or something else?
Wu He scanned the area around the flattened forest and saw a short hill jutting out of the ground with a large hope on top. The beast must have come out from there.
“It came from under the ground?! So that’s why it appeared so suddenly.”
Wu He was muttering to himself when he suddenly saw three people running out of the black hole at the top of the mound.
Yep, those are definitely people!
Even though he was far away and could not see their faces, he was sure they were human!
Who would be reckless enough to do this?
He did not even dare get any closer, yet these people just came out of the tunnels. He came to a conclusion: “They’re definitely true warriors!”
This was his first time meeting anyone this bold.
However, these people ran off as soon as they arrived, not even looking once at the king beast.
The leader running in front paused for a moment when the wriggling king beast turned its head at the three people.
But that was it. The king beast continued to wriggle around and the deafening rumbling continued.
Changes happened to the three people as they ran off. He could not identify them by their clothing either because all three were covered in a layer of white stone dust.
Was that what happened to anyone close to the king beast?
“True warriors indeed!” he reiterated. Any slower, or if the king beast was closer to the hole, these three would not have escaped. The hardening of their bodies would have severely restricted their movement.
“Follow them!” Wu He patted his long-winged bird.
“Coo---” It sounded happy. We’re finally leaving!
Wu He watched as the three of them ran like the wind for a distance. Then, they turned around and ran in a different direction towards the trading point.
The leader looked up at the sky. Wu He knew that he had been found out but did not feel guilty at all, even grinning at him. He was not sure if the leader saw him but so what if they saw him? He was up in the sky.
He felt so pleased with himself to be up in the sky looking down at them… They could not touch him...
It felt good!
Wu He had his bird fly lower. He wanted to speak to the three dusty people.
Before he spoke, the leader put a curved finger in his mouth and whistled.
Wu He raised an eyebrow. What was this about?
“I’m not afraid of you…”
Before he finished, the long-winged bird cried loudly and turned around.
“Eh, what are you doing? Bad bird! You’re flying in the wrong direction!”
Wu He wanted the bird to continue following them but had a bad feeling and turned around.
An eagle double his long-winged bird’s size was flying higher up in the sky in their direction.
“Run, run!!” urged Qu He.
Wu He looked at the eagle coming after them and thought about the information he had previously received. Was this the Flaming Horn’s giant mountain eagle?