Zheng Luo’s and Shao Xuan’s conversation was so implicit that Ao and the others couldn’t understand what they meant. Only Duo Kang’s expression changed after he heard what Zheng Luo said. “So you guys mean we should let the Chang Le bring a letter to the Taihe tribe? Are we persuading them to come over?” Duo Kang asked happily.
The others also understood after what Duo Kang said. Even though Ao’s group had never seen the Taihe tribe, they knew about them. Their brothers who came from the other side of the sea often mentioned them. Ao’s deepest impression was that the Taihe tribe was a good neighbour.
The others also understood what Shao Xuan meant when he said they didn’t have enough people. As more people arrived at the Flaming River Trading Point, the Flaming Horn tribe felt that they couldn’t manage everything at hand. They searched for the cause and realised that it was because they didn’t have enough manpower. There weren't enough helpers they could trust. Once more people from expedition teams came and sparked a conflict, it would turn into a fierce battle.
Luckily Shao Xuan had shown them the might of the Flaming Horns during the king beast’s incident and the Chang Le’s incident. These incidents made the people who had bad intentions hesitate, but the impacts wouldn’t last too long.
It was impossible to train a kid who had just learned to walk to become a warrior skilled in battle and hunting within a single year. Increasing their population wasn’t a task that could be done in the short term, and as for helpers that they could trust, the only tribe the Flaming Horns could really trust was the Drumming tribe. Out of all the tribes in the Flaming River region, they could not even trust the Rain tribe.
However, the Drumming tribe didn’t have a large population either. After they calculated, they still lacked people.
Shao Xuan’s sudden suggestion caught the interest of everyone in the house.
“Even though the Taihe people aren’t that amiable at times, they can still be trusted. We had been neighbours with them on the other side for so many years, and it was our ancestors who picked them as our neighbours from the very beginning,” Zheng Luo said. They indeed quarreled with the Taihe people frequently, but those were just minor squabbles. If something big happened, they would still stick together, like the case with the salt mine.
The salt mine had become deserted because of the salt beast. The salt beast was in the mine, so no one dared to go there. Without the Flaming Horns, the Taihe people were probably not doing too well now. Back then, they were living comfortably because the Flaming Horns were there. An alliance between their tribes was enough to prevent other tribes from making a move on them, but after the Flaming Horns left, they were all alone, so they weren’t as powerful as before.
“That’a a good idea, but what if they don’t want to come here?” Ao asked.
“We need to tell them clearly about our situation here. They’ll probably come. Of course, that’s their decision to make.” Zheng Luo felt that the chances were high. The Taihe tribe had migrated a few times before, so they wouldn’t feel too deeply about leaving their territory behind. They would certainly benefit if they moved here.
Actually, after the disaster, when they noticed that the continents had drifted closer to each other, Zheng Luo had once thought about going back to visit the Taihe people. He wanted to convince them to migrate here so they could keep being neighbours like before, but he also knew that the slave masters were tightly watching out for the Flaming Horns on the other side.
The situation in the desert was also highly unpredictable, so they could only give up. After the construction of the Flaming River Trading Point, everyone was extremely busy. They had no time for expedition trips. Zheng Luo saw hope when he heard Shao Xuan’s suggestion.
The Chang Le’s were their best option for delivering a letter. The people on the other side of the sea already labeled the Flaming Horns as their main target. If the Flaming Horns went over, they would definitely capture them right away, but what if it was the Chang Le’s?
These people were despised wherever they went. The people on the other side of the sea would probably stay as far away from them as they could.
“What if the Chang Le’s don’t want to do it?”
“How can you be so sure that they wouldn’t try to do anything else?”
They couldn’t help worrying about this notorious group of people.
“Even though the Chang Le’s are as despicable as the robbers, they’re a little different. They value their team,” Shao Xuan said, “The robbers often go on missions alone, but the Chang Le’s aren’t like that. They work very well as a team. Plus, when they appeared at the plantations, some of them were even willing to expose themselves when their teammate was injured. One of them even caught another member who fell from his bird. This is enough to show how much they cared for each other.”
“Also, when I slapped down five of them, one of them was unconscious and severely injured. Another’s legs were injured and he couldn’t move at all. Among the other three, only one had a fractured arm and the other two only had slight injuries. They could’ve escaped, and I was the only one there at the time. If they decided to part ways and leave separately, they would have succeeded, but they didn't. They stayed with their companions who couldn’t leave, so I think the Chang Le’s would definitely send people over regardless whether they are dead or alive. If we keep them alive, we can try to negotiate and come to terms with the Chang Le’s.”
All of them nodded after hearing Shao Xuan’s explanation. It was true indeed.
Ao was initially defensive towards the Chang Le’s, but now he only wished for them to return as soon as possible so they could proceed with Shao Xuan’s plan.
“Then everyone can prepare a letter for the Taihe tribe,” Shao Xuan said.
The others all knew that regardless of whether they were close to the Taihe tribe, they had to write with the best attitude so the Taihe people could see their sincerity. If only Zheng Luo and Duo Kang signed the letter, the Taihe people wouldn’t believe them completely. After all, Zheng Luo was no longer the chief, and Duo Kang was only a hunt leader.
After the meeting, Ao called Shao Xuan back, “The bat already left, but it took away a bag of grains. The bag wasn’t big though. It was just a small one.”
After the harvest of the thousand-grain gold, people immediately pulled out the seeds from the grains and stored them in other bags.
The bags used to store the golden grains were all giant bags, but Shao Xuan also let them use a few smaller bags. However, when Ao went back that night to clean up, he noticed that one of the small bags was missing. The bag was the size of a person’s brain.
A window was left open in the warehouse, but there were many guards stationed outside. The bat leader was the only suspect capable of creeping inside and stealing the grains without anyone noticing.
“I don’t see the bat here tonight. Is it still nearby?” Ao asked.
“It’s not here anymore.” Shao Xuan did not sense the bat leader’s presence nearby. It probably carried the bag of grains back to the bat cave in the forest.
“Could it be that the bat came to help us? It didn’t take away a lot of grains,” Ao suspected.
Shao Xuan glanced over at him, “You’re probably thinking too much. The bat thinks that these belong to him, and we’re just his little brothers who are helping him search for food. Why would it protect our thousand grain gold plantation? It saw the thousand-grain gold as one of its favourite foods, so it didn’t let any other bird or beast get close. This is common animal behaviour. As for why it only took away one small bag, I reckon it’s because it’s more convenient. It wouldn’t be able to fly as naturally with a big bag. After all, the bat mountain is quite far away from here.”
“Do you think it would come back for the other bags?” Ao asked.
“That I’m not sure, we’ll have to check.”
“Will it get mad if we eat the thousand-grain gold?” Ao was still worried. What a pity. They had to ask for permission to eat what they planted for themselves.
“Probably not. If it doesn’t want us to get close to the thousand-grain gold, it would threaten us.” Fierce beasts protect their food. They’d rather let their food rot than let other people or beasts take it from them. At least for now, it didn’t seem like the bat leader regarded them as “other people”.
“Then I don’t need to worry anymore.”
After he asked all his questions and got his doubts resolved, Ao could finally relax and prepare for the upcoming event. They had no clue when the Chang Le’s would arrive.
Wu He and his companions were locked inside a cave and weren’t living too well. Their soup was cold and their meat was either burnt or cold. It tasted disgusting too. Besides dried grass, there was nothing on the ground, so they had no cushions whatsoever. Luckily it wasn’t extremely cold, but it was a lot colder at night. They couldn’t sleep well or eat well here. They were indeed being treated like prisoners of war.
At least they still had something to eat. Wu He’s group did not expect the Flaming Horns to treat them nicely at all. They were just waiting for people to come pay the ransom.
Wu He looked at the Flaming Horns nearby across the stone pillars that separated them. Those people were keeping guard here and watching them, but at the moment, they were cooking meat soup. The thick and rich aromas drifted to their cave.
Wu He inhaled deeply. He was feeling hungry. He looked away from the pot of soup and searched for something else to focus on.
Those Flaming Horns were discussing something, but Wu He couldn’t hear it clearly. He could only judge what they were saying by watching their lip movements.
“Heh, did you see their faces when the Grand Elder’s flame giant slapped them down from the sky? It looked like bird poop fell on their faces! Hahaha!” a Flaming Horn warrior was saying.
Wu He read their lips. He was speechless. This sentence sounded very familiar.
Wu He noticed that the Flaming Horn guards also mentioned the “Robbers”. It sounded like a tribe’s name.
“I feel like the Chang Le’s are like the Robbers. They’re so despicable people want to kill them right away. If the Grand Elder didn’t stop us, we would’ve killed them. But then, I feel like the robbers are harder to catch. Up till now, we only caught one robber, but we already caught five Chang Le’s in just one try…” another Flaming Horn warrior told his companion. This made Wu He very unhappy.
What kind of joke is that? How can they even be compared to us Chang Le’s? How come the Flaming Horns made them sound even more powerful than the Chang Le’s?
Could it possibly be their competitors?
As Wu He waited for the other Chang Le’s to come rescue him, he tried to find out more about the “robbers” from the guards who were talking outside.
On the fifth day the five of them were captured, someone finally came from the Chang Le’s. However, they didn’t come to the headquarters. Instead, they went to the Flaming River Trading Point. The Flaming Horns wouldn’t let any Chang Le’s into their headquarters.
Shao Xuan placed a beast hide scroll full of written messages inside a bamboo tube after rolling it up. He then covered it up tightly. This was a letter they wrote after everyone organised their thoughts. It was a letter addressed to their old neighbour, the Taihe tribe.
It was nighttime, and Shao Xuan was heading to the Flaming River Trading Point. Wu He, whose hands and legs were chained, also followed along. He had to prove that they were still alive, so they had to bring one of them over. Amongst these prisoners, Wu He was the leader of the team and he was also mentally stable, so he was the best person to bring.
Even though they brought shame to their gang after their failed mission, Wu He was still excited when he heard that someone came to rescue them. As he thought about how he was leaving the dungeon soon, he swept away his lingering negative emotions and went along expectantly.