“It should be this place, right?” Duo Kang asked Shao Xuan as they slowly approached the coast.
“It’s probably here. Let’s go onshore,” Shao Xuan said.
Hearing Shao Xuan’s words, Duo Kang shouted so the other Flaming Horns heard it too, “Prepare to go on shore!”
The ship in front of the fleet was about to reach land but Mu Fa suddenly shouted, “Everybody stop!”
The others all halted when they heard Mu Fa shout. Mu Fa jumped into the water. He swam in the cold seawater and laughed. His face was red with excitement. He looked up to the other Longboat tribesmen and said, “Come down, all of you!”
Seeing this, Duo Kang was a little irritated. Was he doing this just to be the first to land? Mu Fa had been like this for the past few days. Just because he was the chief, he wanted to be the first to do everything so that in the future, he could be remembered as the first person in the Longboat tribe to lead a team into the sea, the first chief to successfully bring a fleet across the sea to the other continent, and the first…...many things.
“What is this place called?” Mu Fa suddenly thought. How could he put his glorious name in history for his descendants to see if he didn’t know what this place was called? Hundreds and thousands of years would pass by and no one would remember where he went.
“Crocodile river,” Shao Xuan said.
Duo Kang and Guang Yi looked at Shao Xuan simultaneously. They seemed confused. When was this river named? How come they didn’t know this river was called “Crocodile River”?
“I just named it,” Shao Xuan said calmly after seeing Duo Kang and Guang Yi’s expressions. Then, he ordered some people to prepare wooden boards to put up the signs for the river’s name, just like the way they did with the Flaming River.
Mu Fa thought it was a shame. He was thinking if the river didn’t have a name, he would name one just like how the Flaming Horns named the Flaming River. He wanted to call it the Longboat river, Boat River, or even the Long Raft River, but before he even had the chance to say it, Shao Xuan already named the river.
Mu Fa didn’t want to get into a fight with Shao Xuan. He was a step late after all. There was no point in fighting over such a small matter. However, if he finds any new place or unnamed river, he would do exactly what the Flaming Horns did and give it a name too. Then, he would put up a stone sign marked with the Longboat tribe’s totem!
Shao Xuan looked at the river in front of him. This was about the same size as the Flaming River. “If this is indeed the main river that passes through the forest, then there should be quite many crocodiles in this river. But it’s winter right now, so the crocodiles are probably all in hiding. They might be at a warmer section of the river.”
Mu Fa nodded. He had been to the Flaming River Trading Point and he had also seen how the Drumming tribesmen rode their crocodiles to the trading point. That’s why he knew what Shao Xuan meant when he mentioned the crocodiles.
“Everyone be careful. Even though the crocodiles are probably not here now, we must remain alert! There are fearsome beasts in this forest!” Mu Fa hit the shoulders of some Longboat warriors. The Longboat tribe rarely came to places like these, so they wouldn’t adapt as fast as the others. Some people might make seemingly minor mistakes here and there- if he didn’t give them some pressure now, they wouldn’t even have the chance to regret later on.
“I’ve seen a giant crocodile in this river. That’s the biggest threat. If we see it, immediately escape and head towards the estuary. Don’t go on the ships. The ships can’t match up to its speed.”
“Could that be a king beast?” Qing Yi asked curiously. As a member of the Drumming tribe, he couldn’t help feeling a strong interest in the crocodile that Shao Xuan mentioned.
“No, it’s not a king beast, but it’s very close to one.”
Qing Yi contemplated, and then said to Shao Xuan, “There aren’t any crocodiles nearby, but I sense something I need in this river. I want to go take a look.”
The Drumming tribesmen loved water, but Qing Yi didn’t jump into the water at the estuary. He waited until they were further upstream when everyone was either chopping trees for wood to make wooden houses to rest in or hunting for food. He only jumped in then because he knew the others were close enough and could save him in time if any accidents happened.
After he confirmed which section of the river this was, Qing Yi took a deep breath and jumped into the water.
The Drumming tribe didn’t really like winter, and they also didn’t like to swim in cold water, but because he needed to search for something he desired, Qing Yi didn’t care too much about these things.
After charging up the totemic energy within his body, his skin thickened as totemic lines appeared on his skin. This made him less sensitive to the icy cold water. After they merged their fire seed, he gained much better control over his new power. Under the influence of the fire seed, the totemic energy became more concentrated within his body. He also improved in making the water moon stones. He could control the amount of energy he needed to exert for the tasks at hand so he actually had control over how much energy he spent each time. This helped him save a lot of energy.
Shao Xuan was discussing with Duo Kang about how they should set up their tents here. They didn’t know when the Taihe tribe would arrive, but just in case, it was better to prepare for the worst. They shouldn’t sleep on the ships every night.
It was winter time, and they weren’t sure if the estuary was going to freeze. Before the Taihe tribe arrived, they still had to learn the skills from the Longboat tribe to keep their ships in good condition. They also needed to constantly check and repair their ships, or else how could they return to the other continent if their ships couldn’t be used by the end of winter?
When they set up their tents, Shao Xuan also picked some plants that didn’t exist on the other side of the sea. Some of these plants were medicinal herbs. He dug up some medicinal herbs that were evergreen. If they had wilted, he would collect their seeds. Of course, he wouldn’t take any plants that were too big because it wasn’t convenient. He would use other methods to transplant them, methods like grafting, meristems, and cuttage. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time to do this, but Shao Xuan had no other choice. They couldn’t stay here for too long.
The Longboat tribesmen also noticed how the Flaming Horns were collecting plant specimens or capturing beasts that could be tamed.
Shao Xuan saw how Mu Fa was trying to busy himself. He was bringing people here and there, telling them, “This, this, this, that, that, yes, that too! Dig them all up and bring them back…… What’s that? It’s so ugly. Doesn’t matter, bring it back too! You! Where did you get that snake? Did you find it when you were digging up the grass? I’ve never seen such patterns! Bring it back too! What? The Flaming Horns said it’s very poisonous? Never mind. Just kill and eat it!”
Besides the time they spent setting up their tents, Mu Fa also followed the Flaming Horns out to dig up medicinal herbs and capture wild beasts. He didn’t feel tired at all. Instead, he felt exhilarated.
After their tents were set up, they also fenced the area with tall branches to prevent small animals from coming into their camp.
After the Flaming Horns discussed with the Longboat tribe, they decided to use the trees here to build new ships. They had this plan before they even set off from the other continent, so Shao Xuan brought enough new green bronze for this purpose. They were specifically designed for the purpose of building ships.
The Longboat tribe was constantly trying to perfect their ship crafting techniques. After they experienced the ocean, they had greater expectations for their new designs. Their ambition and desire for improvement could only be satisfied if they improved to adapt to new conditions.
Before, the wood they used to build the ships were carefully selected. Some smaller tribes that were under the Longboat tribe’s protection were even ordered by them to plant trees used for shipbuilding. Back then, they selected the best wood for these ships, but even those wood couldn’t compare to the ones the Flaming Horn tribe chopped from the forest. This time, they were mainly using the wood the Flaming Horns provided.
Usually, they had to use plenty of resources to trade for high-quality wood, but here, all of these high-quality wood belonged to no one. They could chop down whichever tree they wanted, as long as they didn’t provoke any of the fearsome beasts in hibernation.
Ever since the Longboat tribe gained such high-quality wood from here and knew about the new green bronze the Flaming Horns produced, Mu Fa had been thinking a lot more about their future.
This was a new era for the Longboat tribe. They had to take this step into this new era to fulfill the wishes of their ancestors and constantly improve and innovate on their ship crafting skills.
They had even designed ships with buildings on them, but they couldn’t build these now due to the limited material. These were mainly designed as battleships or command ships. Besides these plans, Mu Fa had even planned on marking a navigation route that was suitable for them to build ports on the shores. These plans had to be considered in order to match with their growing fleet.
They were a tribe that lived deep within the continent and travelled on rivers. If they wanted to become a strong ocean fleet, their techniques had to be constantly improved and all of their equipment, including their anchors, sails, docks, had to be improved.
Mu Fa also thought about how to innovate and improve on their foundations in his free time. This time at sea, he learned a lot and also gathered a group of talented Longboat tribesmen together to discuss his ideas. Shao Xuan had even seen a blueprint that Mu Fa drew before. It looked simple, but there were many markings that Shao Xuan couldn’t understand. Mu Fa probably showed it to him in the first place because he knew Shao Xuan couldn’t understand these markings.
It wasn’t just these though. Shao Xuan knew that the Longboat tribe was talented in ship crafting. He also knew that the Longboat tribe would become a lot better than they were now after this trip at sea. They could very possibly design ships that could better adapt to this world, this era, and the ocean and rivers here.
Actually, many civilizations that focused on agriculture were calmer in nature. They never pursued new directions or tried different things and were usually more peaceful and conservative. They valued inheritance and the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. As long as they could settle down peacefully and live a stable life, it was good enough for them. If they weren’t provoked by any external parties, they would rarely initiate an attack.
At some point in history, the Flaming Horns were also more inclined towards agriculture. Even though they mainly hunted and had battles throughout their history, they rarely initiated any attacks.
However, the Longboat tribe was different. Even though they also cultivated crops, they preferred navigating, especially after they opened up the water route to the sea. This would lead them to a new direction.
Factors such as the weather and environment were harder to predict out at sea compared to the continent. It was just like what Mu Fa said. They had to continue innovating and improving their ships and tools to ensure their survival out at the powerful sea that was ever-changing. As they evolved to adapt to these new conditions, their nature would also change. They wouldn’t stay as conservative as before. They would be more willing to accept new ideas.
During this time, Shao Xuan also noticed that the Longboat tribe had begun to show their aggressiveness. Of course, this wasn’t directed towards the Flaming Horn tribe. Instead, they were aggressive towards the unpredictable factors and the new land that they were so curious about.
“Grand Elder Shao Xuan, are these the water sun stones that you mentioned before?” Qing Yi held a gemstone up to Shao Xuan. During this time, he found many ancient stones similar to their water moon stones. Other people might not be able to distinguish these stones, but it was easy for skilled Drumming tribe members to tell them apart.
Shao Xuan caught the stone and covered it with his hands. He examined them closely and nodded, “Yes, it is.”
He handed the water sun stone back to Qing Yi. Shao Xuan said after some thought, “There are quite a lot of valuable metals here, at least there are more metals here compared to beautiful gemstones. That’s why the people here value some of the gemstones that we find rather useless. Those rich people who don’t have to worry about food or have a high quality of life usually prefer wearing precious gemstones. These are enough to set them apart from the others and highlight their uniqueness and superiority. Especially the slave masters. The rarer the gemstone, the more they love it. It can set them apart from the others and show how superior they are.”
After he heard how the water sun stones could be sold for a high price here, Qing Yi was suddenly excited, but very soon, he was disappointed again. “Sadly the Drumming tribe is too far away from the coast. We can’t come here often.”
However, the Drumming tribe wasn’t too ambitious so Qing Yi was only disappointed for a short while. He didn’t care too much afterwards. Mu Fa, however, was suddenly interested in this subject. He had overheard Qing Yi and Shao Xuan’s conversation. Shao Xuan didn’t stop him from eavesdropping because it wasn’t a secret.
Now, Qing Yi moved on and no longer discussed this matter, but Mu Fa suddenly said, “Actually, you can trade with us, the Longboat tribe.”
There were plenty of water moon stones on the continent they came from. There were also many gemstones that were similar to water moon stones, but since the Drumming tribe was specialised in making these water moon stones, Mu Fa wouldn’t let this chance slip through his fingers.
The Longboat tribe would still travel between the two continents frequently in the future. He even planned to open up the first marine trading route. Perhaps this would make them a primary hostile target to the slave masters, but the Longboat tribesmen didn’t care. This wouldn’t make them afraid or retreat. Instead, they would keep fighting and stand strong and fearless against their enemy.
This was the first marine trading route! Just the thought of it made Mu Fa so excited that he wanted to jump up and down.
About the same time their camping ground was set up, they also finished building their first ship. The Flaming Horns were in charge of cutting down the trees and the Longboat tribe was in charge of building the ships. The Flaming Horns also had a share in the ships that were newly built, so Shao Xuan wasn’t afraid of the Longboat tribe playing tricks on their ships.
The Longboat tribesmen couldn’t survive by themselves in this environment full of uncertainties. They still needed the Flaming Horn’s help. If they encountered any troubles they would still discuss with the Flaming Horns. After all, they had to constantly exchange benefits to maintain a win-win situation.
Qing Yi asked if he could be of any help, but he wasn’t as strong as the Flaming Horns physically, and he wasn’t skilled enough at ship crafting compared to the Longboat tribe. At best he could only make wooden rafts or bamboo rafts.
When he volunteered to help, everyone from the Longboat tribe and Flaming Horn tribe just laughed and told him, “Just go play over there.”
Thus, Qing Yi just focused on finding ancient water sun stones in the river.
After they waited here for about fifteen days, Cha Cha finally brought some good news back.
Shao Xuan heard the sound of the eagle’s cry and said, “The Taihe tribe is here!”
“What? Finally?!” Duo Kang threw the wood he was lifting to the side and ran towards where Shao Xuan was pointing.
They hadn’t met for so long. He wondered how their old neighbours were doing.