After the Flaming Horns moved here, they held discussions and determined that this cave was the best place to store the core seed.
This place was not too close to the residential area to affect quality of life but not too far away to trouble the guards and transporters.
The core seed affected both biotic and abiotic substances, especially people with weaker bodies like anyone without awakened totems. Even stronger warriors must keep a certain distance away. The guards consumed herbs that strengthened their immune system every day but still could not completely withstand its effects at close proximity.
That was why the guards were all stationed a distance from the cave. The space between them and the cave was laced with many traps. Only people familiar with this area could cross safely.
When Shao Xuan arrived at the entrance, he did not ask the guards to follow him inside. They did not want to either, unless absolutely necessary because even standing at the entrance gave them an eerie, chilly feeling that made their bodies scream in alarm. This was intensely uncomfortable for sensitive Flaming Horn hunters so if it wasn’t for the fact that the core seed was an important source of material to make weapons, they would have stayed far away.
The guard passed Shao Xuan wormskin clothing. Once he had put it on, he pushed the boulder at the entrance aside, walked in, then closed the entrance again. Light was instantly cut off while a faint breeze blew faintly through hidden ventilation gaps.
He took out a water moon stone, instantly brightening the cave. It was brighter than usual- Shao Xuan learned at the desert that this was an effect the core seed had on the stone.
There was the smell of death in this place, as if warning every life form to stay away. This was why most animals stayed far away.
Opening up this cave required a lot of labour. The tunnel had to be wide and tall enough for them to transport rocks. Other tribes might need vehicles and way more people but to the Flaming Horns, if the rocks weren’t too large, they often carried one rock each.
One tunnel led to the place where they stored the rocks. It was a round, empty space inside dug by the Flaming Horns.
Carefully chosen pieces of rock were all arranged neatly in rings circling the core seed at the centre.
The better its quality, the quicker the rock transformed, the better the final product after forging. Flaming Horns were already great at evaluating rock quality anyway. Even without metals and the core seed, they still had to choose rocks to be made into weapons and tools. Now, this skill was put to use to be transported here and then making better weapons. Humans must make progress like this to survive in this competitive world after all.
There were walkways between the rings for convenience. People would come to check on them periodically, inspecting them to see if they were ready to be moved to the forging room.
With Shao Xuan’s special vision, he could inspect these rocks without the help of the water moon stone.
In the past, the quality of the rocks would show as different brightness within his special vision. However, the rocks here had already changed so there were various patches on its surface. Only these special patches were the metal material they would extract to make green bronze products. Other ores could be present, perhaps even valuable, but the Flaming Horns did not need them. Perhaps the Flaming Horns would turn their attention to these other ores if their technology advanced enough in the future.
Shao Xuan immediately walked over to the spot where the crystals were placed. They had sectioned off a part of the place to store the crystals given by the Zhi tribe. This section stood out greatly against the rest of the stones.
This was a sudden idea Shao Xuan had anyway. Initially, Zheng Luo wanted to keep these with the rest of their crystals to be traded with the slave masters on the other side of the ocean later. Those people liked rare, beautiful rocks anyway. Shao Xuan was the one who requested for some of the larger pieces to be moved here while the smaller pieces kept as Zheng Luo and Duo Kang said for trade or sanded into lenses. The lenses he made were given to Gui Ze for studying her herbs, a few made into telescopes for expeditions and watchposts.
The bright parts of the crystals in his special vision had transformed. While they looked the same from the outside, they had changed on the inside.
The core had become as bright as the moon within his special field of vision, much brighter than the other stones that were now as faint as stars. This was also why no one objected when he requested for more crystals subsequently given by the Zhi tribe at trades.
The crystals had undergone extraordinary changes in the presence of the core seed.
Not every type of rock was suitable to be placed here, for example, jade stones changed too slowly to be practical. A piece of jade changed very little even after several years, and the better the jade, the slower it changed so they were no longer used.
Shao Xuan had also picked crystals traded with other people to be placed here. Most of them looked similar to the Zhi tribe’s crystals but after some time, they realised only the Zhi tribe’s crystals changed this much, this fast.
Perhaps the Zhi tribe’s crystals were not as ordinary as Shao Xuan thought. They must have their own quirks for the Zhi tribe to value them so much.
It was common for stones to look similar but have drastically different qualities. Even Shao Xuan might not be able to detect differences with his special vision. Plus characteristics concerning the core seed required time to show.
Since rocks suitable to be put in the core seed’s cave were hard to come by, the tribe did not object to Shao Xuan’s decision. Compared to trading the crystals with slave masters, they would rather make something useful for themselves.
The Flaming Horns had received even larger crystal boulders from the Zhi tribe but since they still were not sure if these changed crystals were truly useful, they had not brought everything over. They would rather use the space to put more rocks for the moment, in case the changed crystals turned out to be useless.
However, if they find that the object inside the crystal was valuable, more valuable than all these rocks, they will soon bring their entire crystal store here.
Shao Xuan turned off his special vision and studied the crystals with the glow of the water moon stone.
The Zhi tribe had mostly brought over colourless crystals but there was now obviously something at the core.
The centre of these transparent colourless crystals was now filled with colourful patches, some yellow, red, grey, brown etc. These irregular shapes filled the inside of the crystal, obscuring the object at the centre from view.
The heart of the crystal was initially tiny but it grew with time. Shao Xuan had come because he speculated that it should have ‘grown’ more by now. He wanted the object at the centre and not the colourful patches of crystal surrounding the heart. This heart was the bright spot shown in his special vision.
In his experience, the brighter the object in his field of special vision, the more valuable it would be.
Since he was not sure what it was, he chose the smallest crystal slab.
After picking it up, his arm sank with the unexpected weight.
A lot heavier than before!
It was not a small difference but a drastic mass change. Heavy enough to be noticed.
Anyone transporting materials would never touch these crystals without Shao Xuan’s permission despite their curiosity, only reporting what they saw to him. This was why no one noticed how heavy they had become!
Shao Xuan was more curious about them than ever. Putting the crystal slab in an animal skin sack, he left the cave, handed his wormskin clothing to the guard and brought this crystal to the forging room at the tribe.
There were people busy forging weapons in the room. Everyone hoped that there would be a green bronze for each Flaming Horn warrior but unfortunately they had limited blood since they wanted to ensure the health of their Green Face Fanged Beasts. They didn’t know if there was an eighth beast in the wild. After the mass destruction during the disaster, no one knew how the extent of wild animal deaths nor did they know if this species lived on this side of the forest.
Everyone knew that this matter required patience.
During their free time, the people in the forging room would discuss new discoveries and experiences. The Flaming Horns had always been slower to progress in terms of forging technology so they had to work on improving themselves. They would be too ashamed to talk to other tribes otherwise, or even worse, replaced by other tribes.
“Eh, Grand Elder! Why are you here?” A person chatting quickly came up to greet Shao Xuan.
“I brought something for you all.” Shao Xuan took the crystal out of his sack.