The Flaming Horns hadn’t stayed in contact with the Lu tribe for a long time. They lived too far from each other and it wasn’t convenient for them to stay in contact, and there was really no need for it either. Secondly, the Flaming Horn tribe was already satisfied with the number of beasts they had in their animal pens. They no longer felt a need to trade beasts with the Lu tribe, and the Lu tribe never looked for them either.
Shao Xuan knew since long ago that the Lu tribe avoided fights whenever they could and never wanted to be the bad guy. The major tribes in the central region kept the Lu tribe under their wing before and were probably planning on sacrificing them in a time of need to save their own lives. Back then after the disaster, the Lu tribe gave them plenty of food.
Even though the Lu tribe rarely contacted them, Shao Xuan heard from the Longboat and Feather tribesmen that the Lu tribe resented the Flaming Horns. They even complained about them to these other tribesmen.
Because of their fire seed.
The Lu tribe was probably the only middle sized tribe that refused to merge their fire seed. Their way of life was based on herding and they rarely had conflicts with other tribes. Back in the old days, they were the Wanshi tribe’s target and endured all sorts of challenges. They never even fought back once. Simply put, they were pushovers and this was just the way they lived. They knew how best to survive and live a stable life.
However, the Flaming Horns changed everything. They were the ones who introduced the concept of a merged fire seed to everyone, and since then, all the major tribes had merged their fire seeds. Even those in the central region merged their fire seed either willingly or under the threat of other tribes. So much had changed since then that even when the Lu tribe faced challenges, no one was willing to lend them a hand because of their primitive fire seed.
The Mang tribe and Eight Limbs tribe were partners with the Longboat tribe. Recently the Longboat tribe had been going out to sea with some of their people and the rest of them would stay behind to help watch over the Longboat tribe’s possessions, just in case people came to rob them while they were out at sea.
The Longboat tribe had not finished migrating. In the future, they would definitely move closer to the sea since their hearts were out there already. They didn’t want to be trapped inland and the ocean was their target.
As for the Lu tribe? They never cared about these things and if the Longboats asked for their help, they would just provide the most minimal help and wouldn’t bother too much.
The Feather tribe were busy setting up new enclosures for their birds. They had recently gathered in new bird stock so they were very busy. Where they were, it was easy to guard and difficult for others to attack, so even if some foreigners wanted to trouble them, they would have a hard time because they weren’t familiar with the geography there. Now, the Feather tribesmen only cared about their own territory and improving their facilities. They didn’t want to care about anything else, so the help they could provide was very minimal.
The Thousand Masks tribe were militarising and preparing to defend themselves from external threats. They heard that the Flaming Horns were building cities, so they were preparing to fend off people with bad intentions. They were also very busy and didn’t have the time to care about the Lu tribe’s critical situation.
The tribes on the grassy plains would care even less for the Lu tribe. They never really communicated with them anyways.
After some thought, the Lu tribe had no choice but to reach out to the Flaming Horns for help.
“The Lu tribe’s situation is probably much worse than what’s written here,” Zheng Luo said.
The beast hide scroll only said that the Lu tribe’s animals had been stolen by others, but just by the fact that they had to reach out to the Flaming Horns who lived so far away from them, the Lu tribe was for sure in a critical situation.
“It even says in the back that they are planning on migrating,” Zheng Luo emphasised this point to Shao Xuan.
According to what was written, the Lu tribe had not decided on migration. They just thought about it.
“They are such simple-minded people,” Duo Kang was disappointed.
He was willing to let the Lu tribe come over.
The Lu tribesmen were skilled in herding after all. Perhaps they could help the Flaming Horns tame even more beasts. The Flaming Horns didn’t mind having more beasts. Their only concern was that the Lu tribe still had their primitive fire seed, and there was no way he was going to let them bring that over.
The Flaming Horns wouldn’t want something like that near them.
This was not their own fire seed after all. They had to keep a distance because its energy would greatly influence their totemic warriors. All the tribes around the Flaming Horns had already merged their fire seeds.
The Rain tribe, Drumming tribe, Taihe tribe, who amongst them hadn’t merged their fire seed? If the Lu tribe wished to come over and live under the Flaming Horn tribe’s protection, the Flaming Horns were fine with it, on the premise that they got rid of their primitive fire seed. Or else if they came over with it, not only would it be repulsive for the Flaming Horns, it would also disturb other tribesmen in the area.
“Even now, they still refuse to merge their fire seed. I already heard some news that amongst all the major to middle-sized tribes, they are the only people left with a primitive fire seed,” Zheng Luo said.
Shao Xuan had finished reading what was written on the beast hide scroll. “Right now, the Lu tribe is no different from a free lunch for any robber. Luckily they still have their fire seed, or else all their beasts would’ve been stolen and all of their people killed.”
“What are your plans?” Zheng Luo asked Shao Xuan. “Regardless of whether they migrate, the Lu tribe already listed out what they will give us in return if we go and help them. If we go, all of those things will belong to us.”
After considering the number of tamed beasts they were willing to offer the Flaming Horns, Duo Kang said, “They’re willing to give so much away.”
The number of beasts the Lu tribe promised them was already two-thirds the number the Flaming Horns had in their own animal pens.
“Perhaps the Lu tribe wants to use this opportunity to get rid of their extra beasts. This will be more convenient for their migration,” Zheng Luo speculated.
After some thought, Shao Xuan said, “I’ll bring some people with me to check the situation over there. I’m not going for these rewards though. I want to check on a few people.”
“Are you planning on using this opportunity to show off?” Zheng Luo suddenly thought about this. “I heard that more and more people had come from the other side to the Flaming River region. We can actually use this case to show off our might and scare them away.”
“Not just people from the other side. There are, but they are not the majority. Besides those people, some tribes there are beginning to change and also have their eyes set on the Lu tribe,” Shao Xuan said.
“Yup. After they merge their fire seed, their ambition would increase and they are no longer satisfied with what they have. They will begin to set their eyes on new targets,” Shao Xuan continued, “The majority of people who settled here are after all tribesmen.”
“You mean, besides scaring away those outsiders, we can also put on a show for those tribesmen whose ambitions are growing?” Zheng Luo was already clear about this.
“Sometimes being fierce and showing off our strength isn’t a bad thing, you know. Back in the old days, our ancestors made sure to let everyone know our fierceness and it was a wise choice,” Shao Xuan recalled other tribes’ impressions of the Flaming Horns. Now, even though the Flaming Horns were very well known, they weren’t fierce enough.
They lived in such a vast space. Fierceness was a useful label that could scare away those who were mischievous. At least these people wouldn’t dare to make any move on the Flaming Horns.
“When are you leaving, Shao Xuan? I’m coming with you!” Duo Kang rubbed his hands eagerly. He was already growing impatient.
“You can’t leave,” Shao Xuan was determined.
“What? Why not? Last time you brought Ta with you and this time it should be my turn! I want to go kill… umm go save them too,” Duo Kang was clear about this point as well. Between Ta and him, one of them had to stay behind.
“You have to help Zheng Luo watch the trading point. More foreign tribes are appearing in this region and many of them snuck in with the expedition teams. They’re probably trying to find out more about our trading point,” Shao Xuan said.
Duo Kang no longer complained after hearing this. Compared to helping the Lu tribe, protecting the trading point was a much more important task.
“Shao Xuan, why not bring the guy in the underground room with you too?” Duo Kang suggested.
”I will. I’ll be worried if he stays here,” Shao Xuan said. Gan Qie was too unpredictable. If he suddenly went out of control, he might create chaos in the Flaming River Castle. It was better if he brought him along on this trip.
Duo Kang thought so too. Shao Xuan was the only one who could manage to “kill” those desert puppets. Even though Gan Qie was a little different from those puppets, they would feel more at ease if Shao Xuan was around because he was the one who resurrected him in the first place. If anything happened to Gan Qie, Shao Xuan might be able to identify a solution.
“That’s good then. But Shao Xuan, have you noticed that he’s become more slow-witted?” Duo Kang said in a low voice.
Gan Qie’s emotions had been pretty stable so far. He could maintain the same expression for a whole day, and this made Duo Kang very curious. How could someone maintain the same expression and not feel uncomfortable?
Shao Xuan didn’t stay in the Castle for too long. Since he decided to bring some people to the Lu tribe, he had to tell the people at headquarters before he selected a final group to follow him on this trip.
After leaving the trading point, Shao Xuan did not walk across the bridge immediately. He walked farther away to the man made canal. There was a suspension bridge above this canal. Shao Xuan walked across that suspension bridge until he reached a place where nobody could see him. No others were around. After searching for something on the ground, he tapped his feet twice.
Not long after, the ground opened up where he had tapped his feet and a bearded dwarf-like figure appeared. He was probably sleeping before this. His eyes were squinting as he yawned. This was a Ya tribesman.
Seeing Shao Xuan, the person immediately became attentive. “What’s the matter, Grand Elder?”
“Tell the others to watch out for foreigners,” Shao Xuan left this message for him.
The Ya tribesman nodded at the message. He would spread this message as fast as he could to his tribesmen. What Shao Xuan meant by this was that some dangerous individuals from far away were here. The people in the Flaming River region should stay alert, and this included the Ya tribesmen.
Shao Xuan walked away after warning the Ya tribesman about this. He could sense that the pterosaur was roaming the place he dumped the fishes. When he walked by that place, the pterosaur was tearing a piranha to shreds and throwing the shreds into the canal. The pterosaur paused and shrieked after throwing the shreds into the canal.
The guards at the stone bridge had already told Shao Xuan about this. The pterosaur did this once before. This was the second time.
Shao Xuan even saw more than ten fishes swimming in the water, fighting over the food. These were the fishes the pterosaur threw into the canal.
“Grand Elder, should we let it continue?” the guards asked.
“Don’t mind it. Just keep a close watch over it.”
Shao Xuan didn’t know what the pterosaur was planning, but at least he didn’t need to worry about the fishes starving now.
After Shao Xuan returned to headquarters and had a discussion with the senior members of the tribe, he headed off with five hundred people the very next day. Gan Qie also left with them, hooded and cloaked. Just like Shao Xuan suggested, he could take a good look at the changes that had happened to the world and get to meet more people from the other side. He finally had more people to interrogate now.
After Shao Xuan left with his entourage, some people also trailed behind them. Amongst these people were Wu He and the other Chang Le’s.
Initially Wu He planned on going on an adventure, but when they saw Shao Xuan leave with more than five hundred people, they knew that something was definitely going to happen.
This piqued their curiosity. They decided to follow Shao Xuan’s team on their birds and watch the excitement from above.
Meanwhile, in the Lu tribe.
Ever since the Flaming Horn tribe migrated, it became a lot quieter in the Lu tribe. Strictly speaking, the Lu tribe could not be considered part of the central region. They lived closer to the edges because they needed more land to herd their beasts. The central region fought too frequently and the situation there was never stable, so it wasn’t suitable for herding.
The Lu tribe had been living here for a very long time. As traditional tribesmen, they would never choose to leave if they had the choice, but since the situation had already become so critical and they were being targeted by so many in the region, they didn’t have many other choices.
In the second year after the disaster struck, they were already losing many animals in their animal pens. At first, only those on the edges were being stolen, but very soon, more beasts were stolen and even guards were injured and killed. The situation had worsened so much, but luckily they still had their fire seed. The repulsive energy scared some of these thieves away.
Some people even began to worry. What if those robbers and thieves joined forces and attacked the Lu tribe at the same time? What should they do? Their fire seed was still in its primitive form. If they lost it, their tribe would disappear too.
They had three choices. The first option was to go to the grassy plains. Many tribes there herded animals and there was a rich source of water and grass there. Unfortunately, many good locations there were already claimed by other tribes. If they went there, they might have to fight the others for land. The Lu tribe was not willing to fight because they had already suffered huge losses from the ambushes. Battles would only do more harm to their people and they were not willing to take this risk.
Their second option was the Thousand Masks tribe. The Thousand Masks tribe already knew about the Lu tribe’s current situation, but they did not offer a helping hand and only observed quietly for a long time before finally offering some help. However, the Lu tribe had to agree with their conditions before they would send any help. The Thousand Masks tribe was willing to take the Lu tribe in on the premise that they merge their fire seed first. There were other requirements too, like how they should organize their animal pens, but the Lu tribe found it hard to accept any of these requests.
Their third and final option was the Flaming Horn tribe.
“I agree that we should reach out to the Flaming Horns,” Yan Jiu glanced around at the others. He knew the Flaming Horns better than most other Lu tribesmen and he trusted the Flaming Horns more than the Thousand Masks tribe.
“If we have to merge our fire seed either way, of course the Flaming Horns are a better choice,” Yan Jiu said affirmatively.
“But if the Flaming Horns let us bring our fire seed over, we can actually consider going with them,” an elder suggested. However, the others disagreed, Yan Jiu included.
“Don’t even think about it. The Flaming Horns definitely won’t allow it. Don’t you know why all the major tribes in the central region merged their fire seeds? It's all because of the Flaming Horns!” Yan Jiu sneered. They were facing too many problems now that he no longer even cared about his manners. Regardless of whether the other party was an elder, he had to speak this way in order to wake them up from their naive thoughts.
These people still couldn’t see it clearly and were still blabbering about this even now. Their tribe was already in such a critical situation. Even if they wanted to merge their fire seed, they wouldn’t feel safe because there were too many people observing them. Who knew if the others decided to backstab them at a crucial moment?
The majority of their tribe disagreed with Yan Jiu, but he stood strong with his opinion and requested the new chief to write a letter to the Flaming Horns.
Yes, the Lu tribe’s previous chief was killed in an unexpected ambush, and recently a new chief had been appointed. His name was Bai Xing. This person was the strongest amongst all Lu tribesmen, and that was why he was chosen at a time like this. He was strong, but he was not as farsighted as the previous chief. Luckily he was still willing to listen to Yan Jiu’s advice and wrote a letter to the Flaming Horns to request for help.
The others were all silently contemplating. Yan Jiu scowled at them. He couldn’t stand watching them like this anymore. As he stormed away, he said, “You guys can keep discussing! Let me know when you make a final decision!”
Yan Jiu looked at the others outside the chief’s house as he walked away. Every single one of them appeared trancelike and sunken.
“Stay alert!” Yan Jiu yelled at them.
These people were shocked by Yan Jiu’s exclamation. They looked around anxiously and after noticing that everything was normal, they heaved a sigh in relief. They weren’t this timid before, but a series of events, especially the incident that took their chief’s life, their confidence was greatly damaged.
Yan Jiu looked at those people and inhaled deeply. He opened his mouth as if to reprimand, but only a long sigh came out, and he walked away.
Back then when they were faced against the Wanshi tribe, they felt confident because a few other tribes in the central region had their backs. That was why the Wanshi tribe didn’t dare to make a move on them, but the situation was different now. It was not the time to evade problems. These attackers were foreigners and perhaps some were ready to exploit the benefits by attacking them at a critical time. In Yan Jiu’s eyes, these people were the predators and the Lu tribesmen were dumb birds who still thought they could continue to live peacefully under their threat.
No wonder the Flaming Horns called the birds they tamed “dumb birds.” These birds were fleshy and useless. They couldn’t be strong even if they wanted to and had no brains to use. Who was there to blame for this?
The rule of survival in the forest was to feed on those who were stupid and weak.
“Leader!” a young warrior hurriedly ran over from the animal pens, panting. He appeared slightly infuriated, “Leader, we lost a dumb bird again!”
They even learned from the Flaming Horns and called their own birds stupid! This was pathetic. They were indeed very stupid that it was driving him nuts!
“Stolen again?” Yan Jiu felt hopeless.
There were many beasts in their animal pens and it was a giant piece of land. Even though many guards were there, there were always gaps they couldn’t cover, and these thieves would sneak in through those gaps, break the animal pens, and use food as bait to lead these animals out of the pens. Amongst these animals that were baited, the dumb birds consisted of the majority.
“According to the footprints left next to the animal pens, yes,” the young man who replied unhappily and helplessly.
“How can they be so stupid! So stupid! Stupid!” Yan Jiu felt an urge to open up those birds’ brains to see what was wrong. Even a single fruit could bait them away.
Their ancestors tamed and trained these birds until they lost their wild nature and became suitable for rearing. They were indeed suitable for rearing now, and Yan Jiu felt so too, but after seeing how many of these birds were stolen, he only felt a twinge of helplessness rise within him.
If these birds could become a little smarter, just a little, maybe they wouldn’t have lost so many this fast. But matters in this world were just like that. If they chose to tame and train a stupid species, they shouldn’t complain now that they could be easily tricked.
Yan Jiu asked again, “Is anyone hurt?”
“That’s good. As for those birds... if we lost them, too bad. Just forget about them.”
Meanwhile, within the forest a distance away from the Lu tribe, twenty individuals gathered around a fire as they roasted the dumb bird they stole from the Lu tribe not too long ago.
These people were laughing loudly. The language they spoke did not belong to this region.