Besides scooping up these insects and animals, the fleet also scooped up some extra ice to preserve them. After they finally reached land, even though they were still far from their tribe, they no longer felt the sense of imbalance they constantly felt at sea.
After a few days of rest, their fleet set off once again.
In the sky, the Hui tribe escorted them on the backs of a few giant mountain eagles to prevent any curious giant eagles from attacking their fleet. Those curious eagles could be very aggressive, so the people from the Hui tribe decided to escort them to prevent situations like these.
“Did Cha Cha and the other eagles go to Eagle Mountain from here?” Shao Xuan asked Gu La.
“I don’t know. When the great mountain eagles depart for Eagle Mountain, we’re not allowed to follow, but I’m pretty sure this is the direction they travelled,” Gu La said.
Perhaps it wasn’t at this estuary but it was highly possible that the mountain eagles flew over the mountains to the other side. The disaster had not happened back then, so the dangerous great river still existed. Cha Cha and the other eagles would never go near that river.
The Hui tribesmen always thought that Eagle Mountain was deep within the heart of the mountains. They never thought that it could be farther away. Eagle Mountain was not here. It was where the Flaming Horn tribe was. The place was full of fearsome beasts.
After their fleet passed the mountainous region, the Hui tribesmen no longer needed to escort them. They had already passed where the giant mountain eagles resided. After they bid their goodbyes, the fleet continued to travel down the river that led to the grassy plains. They followed the trail back to where they came from.
After they rested at their first stop, the Taihe tribesmen became more energetic. This was no longer the sea, so they became more relaxed. Their eyes filled with curiosity as they observed the tribespeople who lived on the grassy plains.
Those people who were more sensitive could sense the presence of ancient fire seeds.
“So that’s the ancient fire seed? How peculiar,” You Yu said.
The Taihe tribe merged their fire seed long ago. They had not used the ancient fire seed since a very long time ago. They never thought they could sense the presence of a fire seed on this continent.
“Such powerful energy.”
Even if it was just a fire seed from a small tribe, the energy within an ancient fire seed could not be ignored.
“We can still sense the presence of primitive fire seeds now, but after a few more years, they’ll be very rare,” Duo Kang explained the changes that were occurring on this continent to You Yu.
According to what they heard from the Hui people, after the major tribes on this continent merged their fire seeds, many of the middle-sized tribes had also begun to merge their fire seeds. Perhaps, in about five to ten years, all of the smaller tribes would also follow in their footsteps.
After discussing this matter, Duo Kang told the Taihe tribespeople about their trading point. Since they were back, they no longer needed to worry too much.
Life on the ships was very dull. They returned safely and didn’t encounter any major problems on the way. Now, all the problems that they would face wouldn’t be too significant. When the people on the shores saw the Longboat fleet on the river, they also breathed out a sigh in relief.
Why did they heave out a sigh of relief?
Last year they watched the Longboat tribe depart from here, but they never saw them return. Winter had arrived, but they still hadn’t returned. They thought that something had happened to the Longboat tribe, but this thought did not originate out of their worry for them. Rather, they were accustomed to seeing the fleet return from their travel every time. Last year, they only saw their fleet leave. They waited for a whole season, and yet they still had not returned. Something just felt incomplete within them, but now, they finally felt complete.
Some people also felt that it was a little unfortunate. If the Longboat tribe indeed got into an accident on their trip, it would make fantastic news. After all, the Longboat tribe was recognised by all as the strongest tribe on the river. It was rare to see anything happen to them.
As Duo Kang explained the situation at the Flaming River to You Yu and the others, Shao Xuan checked on the ice that was slowly freezing up inside the storage cabins.
He didn’t care about other matters. Duo Kang just felt a sudden interest in these creatures so he wanted to bring these things back to show to his tribesmen at home. It was just another new discovery they made at sea. These were things from very long ago after all. After he showed these to his people, there was no way for them to continue preserving them like this. They still didn’t have enough resources to keep these things the way they were and preserve them, and the Flaming Horn tribe definitely wouldn’t waste their resources on something that had no practical use. So he figured that after his people had seen them, he would throw these insects and beasts into marshes or pits or use them as fertiliser.
However, the only thing Shao Xuan really cared about was the creature he scooped up.
After it was frozen again, Shao Xuan didn’t notice much of a change when he moved the wooden box, but now that he took a closer look at it, he noticed that there were some changes in the creature’s bones.
No, not its bones exactly. Some of its other parts had also changed. Shao Xuan could feel a weak breath of life within the creature. It was very subtle. If the ice melted and the creature was taken out of the ice, perhaps it would lose its very last breath and die.
He realised that this creature, whatever it was, was very close to dying, so it wasn’t too different from dead.
Shao Xuan wanted to test his hypothesis right away, but this wasn’t the right place. This was a ship. If he wasn’t careful, the ship might suffer severe casualties. That would be a huge problem that might hinder their travel back home.
The time will come for this, so he didn’t need to rush it. All Shao Xuan wanted to do was test whether his guess was true, so he would wait until they reached the Flaming River Trading Point. The conditions there were more suitable for him to experiment with these things.
Shao Xuan sighed as he looked at the frozen block. He covered the lid of the wooden case and took out a piece of grey linen cloth. Then, he started drawing on it with a carbon rod.
He drew out the skeletal structures he could identify. These bones formed the structure of the creature, and he remembered it clearly in his special vision. He drew it on the cloth and separated parts of the complete picture into different parts.
After he separated these, he felt like the drawing wasn’t realistic enough, so he found a piece of wood and sharpened it into small sticks. He then cut the small sticks into what seemed like small bones that resembled the original bones.
Some of the smaller bones might be missing, but what he needed was a full skeletal figure. He would make a copy of every single bone on the beast with the wooden sticks until he could assemble a complete skeleton.
After it was finally complete, Shao Xuan started assembling the wooden bones.
He started with the head. This was the most obvious part of the creature. He would slowly work his way from there. When he couldn’t determine which bone was which, he started working from the tail part, because it was very unique too. Then, he worked his way up the tail until he was stuck again. Finally, he started from its claws.
Once Shao Xuan put his full concentration on something, he could forget about time. He would rarely walk away from something if he wasn’t done with it.
After Duo Kang finished his conversation with You Yu and the others, he looked around and noticed Shao Xuan wasn’t there. He asked around and found out that Shao Xuan went to the cabins that stored the frozen creatures. He went over there to look.
The door was shut. Duo Kang stood outside the door and asked in a low voice, “Shao Xuan? Grand Elder?”
No one answered.
After a moment of hesitation, Duo Kang gently knocked a couple times on the door. “Shao Xuan, are you inside?”
Shao Xuan finally came back to his senses. He was too focused examining the final product he had assembled. He didn’t hear him at all the first time Duo Kang called his name.
After Duo Kang entered the cabin, the first thing he saw was the skeleton on the wooden box. This skeleton was strange. At first sight, it seemed like a bat, but very soon he realized that it wasn’t. This figure appeared more aggressive than a bat’s.
Duo Kang gained enough experience on his hunts that allowed him to roughly guess what the creature was by simply analysing its skeleton.
“What is this?”
Shao Xuan rubbed his sore eyes and then said, “A pterosaur!”