This pterosaur was cautious and studied its surroundings with watchful eyes. Even though it had developed a closer connection with Shao Xuan during the past few days he fed it, it was still very afraid of Shao Xuan.
The pterosaur was already fully recovered and it was pretty much no different from the state it was in before it was frozen. It had a much faster reaction speed now and much sharper senses too. When the door of the secret room opened, it could sense the other strangers who had come with Shao Xuan. That was why it hid away so fast.
It didn’t learn this hiding method from bats though. Back then when it lived in the forest, whenever it sensed danger, it would hide behind thick bushes or giant leaves. Since it was so small, it couldn’t fly fearlessly in the sky like the other giant pterosaurs.
During this time, Shao Xuan noticed that this pterosaur belonged to a smaller species of the pterosaur family. He probably wouldn’t get to see any pterosaurs that he imagined in his mind, the ones as large as Chacha.
The others surrounded the table and waited as Shao Xuan carried the pterosaur out from underneath the table. All of them watched the ancient creature with eager eyes.
“This is the ...pterosaur you told us about?” Zheng Luo examined the pterosaur that was hanging from the table. “It looks weird indeed. It’s neither a bird nor a bat.”
“Did it really come from that long ago?” Ao wanted to touch its wings, but the creature shrank away.
It could sense the fire seed’s energy within these strangers’ bodies. Even though they looked different, their energies were similar.
This was the creature’s first thought.
Even though the pterosaur couldn’t understand why these people looked so different from itself, it still knew what it should be doing. Shao Xuan had trained it not to attack anyone with similar energies. He punished it whenever it attacked people with the fire seed’s energy, so it no longer dared to attack. The creature only watched them cautiously and dodged whenever they tried to touch it.
“It’s unbelievable! It survived for so long inside the ice? It’s such a small creature,” Duo Kang held his hand up to measure its size. It was even smaller than the two gomphos he gave Shao Xuan, but it had a surprisingly strong life force.
“Shao Xuan, since you found one, what do you think happened to the other beasts of that time?” the retired shaman stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Judging by the looks of the dead insects and beasts and this pterosaur now, it seems like the beasts from that time were very different from the beasts now.”
“Yes, the beasts at that time were indeed different from the beasts now, but I don’t know what made them disappear. I was thinking about this too, and I came up with a few theories these few days,” Shao Xuan said.
The other Flaming Horns didn’t ask Shao Xuan how he knew all of these.
They didn’t think it was important. Even if they asked and Shao Xuan told them that the ancestors told him about these, they would’ve believed him. What mattered most to them was what Shao Xuan said, not where he got all this information from.
The two retired shamans’ eyes suddenly lit up with interest when they heard Shao Xuan’s words. The others also looked at Shao Xuan and waited for him to continue. When they heard Shao Xuan say that these creatures existed even before their ancestors, they were all shocked. They couldn’t imagine what that era was like. What was the status of humans back in those days?
“Why do you think they disappeared?”
“It might’ve been the fire seed,” Shao Xuan said.
“The fire seed?” The others were all doubtful. What did the fire seed have to do with this?
“I noticed that this pterosaur is afraid of the fire seed’s flames. While it’s also wary of regular fire, it had a much stronger reaction towards the flames of the fire seed.” Shao Xuan noticed this phenomenon when he was trying out the special enslavement method, so he tested it again the next few days. The creature reacted the same every time.
“It’s scared of the fire seed’s energy? It wouldn’t matter if this happened to any other beasts, but didn’t you say that it relied on the power of the fire seed’s energy to recover? How can it be scared of the fire seed?” Everyone was confused about this. Other tribes would feel repulsive energy from their fire seed but creatures that had energy from the same fire seed shouldn’t react like this. The other beasts that had been marked by the tribe’s fire seed also weren’t repulsed by their fire seed.
“I think it does know that the flames I make can’t harm it. It looks more like it was acting out of a natural instinct to hide from fire seed flames. Could it be that it saw something similar to the fire seed before it was frozen?” It probably developed an innate fear of anything similar to a fire seed. That’s why it was so avoidant.
“Wait! Wait!” Both shamans took out their pens and beast hide scrolls and started writing it down. After they scribbled, they looked up at Shao Xuan, “You were saying?”
It was their duty after all. Even though both of them had retired, these elders were still highly interested in anything related to history. Even if what Shao Xuan said was just a guess, they would write it down. So what if they couldn’t prove it? Their descendants might be able to find an answer.
After reading what the two elders wrote, Shao Xuan continued with his story.
“If, I mean if the pterosaur saw a fire seed shortly before it was frozen, then it would explain its reaction to our fire seed’s energy. It would most likely forget about things that happened a long time ago, but if it saw our fire seed not long before it froze up in ice, then its reaction could be justified. Back in those days, the fire seeds were probably still inside fire ponds. It was so long ago, so there probably weren't any merged fire seeds.”
All of them nodded in approval. They understood what Shao Xuan said. Even on the other side of the sea, the merging of the fire seed only began not too long ago. Even at the very most, it wouldn’t be longer than ten thousand or a hundred thousand years, much less a million years. If the fire seed existed at that time, it would’ve still been in its ancient form.
“Even though I have no clue what actually happened back then, I'm guessing this had something to do with the ancient fire seed, or else the creature wouldn’t be this afraid. Judging by how the creature looked at the fire seed’s flames, it’s clear that this is not its first encounter. It’s as if it’s looking at something terrifying and familiar.” Shao Xuan couldn’t read what the pterosaur was thinking because this enslavement method wasn’t the same as the style he used on Sapphire the beetle. This enslavement was targeted at the creature’s bones and not its consciousness, so Shao Xuan could not know what the creature was thinking. He could only make speculations based on his observations.
Everyone accepted Shao Xuan’s guess. In their hearts, the fire seed was the most powerful thing in the world. If something could make all the fierce beasts from that time disappear, it could only be the fire seed. They couldn’t bring themselves to accept other reasons. Could there be anything more powerful than the fire seed? They didn’t believe such a thing existed.
“However, it’s just a theory. There are still many uncertain factors, and no one else knows what actually happened back then, besides him,” Shao Xuan pointed at the alert pterosaur that was standing on the stone table.
Since he had already used this enslavement method on this creature, Shao Xuan didn’t think it was possible to use the method he used on Sapphire the beetle again. These two methods were too different. If he wasn’t careful, the pterosaur might explode and die. Then not even his bones would be left behind. Plus, these were issues that had happened so long ago. There was no real reason for them to investigate further. They weren’t archaeologists anyways. They could put their efforts elsewhere, like building roads near the Flaming River and new houses.
The other Flaming Horns were only curious for a while. They didn’t intend on investigating further.
“We must take good care of it! Ah Xuan, if you can’t do a good job, you can leave it to us. This creature had seen the ancient fire seed from a very long time ago. It existed even before our ancestors, and it’s alive too!” The two retired shamans wanted to stay longer in the secret room, so when they left, they still looked back at the creature on the table with longing eyes. Amongst all the people in the group that came, the two elders probably had the most interest in the pterosaur.
He knew that the two shamans probably meant for him to treat this pterosaur as their tribe’s mascot but Shao Xuan didn’t think the same way. This creature wasn’t big, and it’s also very fierce and untamed. A mascot? Ha! He would be glad if it didn’t hurt anyone.
After the others left, Shao Xuan watched as the pterosaur hopped down from the stone table and glided down to the ground to look for food. Judging by its performance today, he could probably let it out after a few more days.
Five days later, Shao Xuan left the secret underground room with a newly made green-bronze cage in his hands.
He covered the cage with a thin cloth. The cloth had holes in it, so even though the people around him couldn’t see what was inside, they saw a pair of curious eyes staring from within through the holes.
Shao Xuan didn’t open up the cage in the Flaming River Castle though. He held it with one hand and carried it all the way to the trading point. He walked through the trading point, went across the bridge, and headed for the Flaming Horn headquarters.
Beside the Flaming River, a group of people was digging canals from the river. Other groups who joined came from the Taihe tribe,
They needed manpower to dig the canals, and they couldn’t solely depend on the people from the Flaming Horn and Taihe tribe. They had other matters to deal with in their tribe. The Taihe tribe was constructing new buildings for themselves so they couldn’t dispatch too many of their people, only some of them came. If any other strong men wanted to come help, they worked in exchange for some goods from the Flaming Horn tribe. The Flaming Horn tribe even provided two meals a day for these workers.
There were others from expedition teams who wanted to join, but they came a step too late. They already had enough people for the work and everyone had already started working.
The stone bridge on the Flaming River intercepted the river so it wasn’t convenient for ships to travel up and down the stream. That was why they decided to dig a canal that would curve around the stone bridge and connect to the lower segment of the stream. This was a huge project, and required a lot of work but they weren’t in a rush so it was okay.
The Flaming Horns had dug a human-made lake before so they had some experience in digging. It wasn’t at all problematic to them.
When Shao Xuan walked by, they were still digging hard.
Shao Xuan brought a fearsome beast from the trading point for them as extra food for their lunch. He also stopped by to ask about the work progress and whether they experienced any problems. When he heard the person in charge say everything was going smoothly, he didn’t stay much longer. He walked toward the Giant Bridge of the Flaming River and left, holding the cage in his hand.
“What was Grand Elder carrying in that cage?” a Flaming Horn warrior asked another warrior beside him as he saw Shao Xuan walk away.
“I don’t know. I sense something with our fire seed’s energy. That’s odd! Could it be that the Grand Elder marked another fearsome beast?”
“How big was the cage? It’s not even that big, so how big could it fit a fearsome beast?
“What else could it be if it’s not a fearsome beast? You think our Grand Elder would hunt a normal wild animal?”
“Uh...never mind, we’ll know what it is when he releases it.”