“Tributaries?” Gui He was excited upon hearing this. 

Shao Xuan pointed to the different streams that flowed into the Flaming River. “If we use these streams to divide the land into sections, here, for example, we know that there are three major tributaries that flow inland. The one closest to us is one. This tributary as well as the other smaller streams and lakes that empty into it belong to one body of water. This body of water makes it easy to divide the land and manage the tribes that live in this region. In the future, if we need to mention a tribe, all we need to do is mention the body of water they live by and remember what that place looks like. Then we will be able to estimate where that tribe is based on that.”

“Yes! That’s perfect!” Gui He didn’t know how to express his doubts, but noted Shao Xuan’s water system made it clear and solved Gui He’s problem. “Before, when they tell me their tribe without showing me a map, I wouldn’t know where it is. If we need to relay some information, we need to have proper methods and systems to effectively communicate. Plus, there are so many tribes that wish to rely on us. If more tribes join our alliance, we can keep adding them onto the map.”

The increase in the number of tribes made them realise how many small tribes lived in hidden regions. Even though there weren’t many people in this region, there were many tribes here. These tribes didn’t live in large territories and had very few people. Many of them only had around a few hundred members.

Small tribes had to stay together to survive against external threats. Many were competing and fighting for survival inland, and most tribes that lived in the Flaming River region weren’t big tribes. If they continued to isolate themselves, they might be able to survive for a while, but they won’t be able to maintain a stable uninterrupted life. Very soon, they would be attacked by all types of people.

Shao Xuan had warned the Ya tribe before the Flaming Horn team left for the Lu tribe. He told them that more people were coming from foreign places and some were from the other side of the sea. He also told the Ya tribe to pass this message to all the tribes in this region so they were aware and knew to watch out for these people. People who came over this time of the year were not here to tour around. Even the Chang Le’s, who weren’t exactly robbers, were enough to give the Flaming Horns a hard time, so they must watch out for these others who had clear intentions in mind even more. The Lu tribe’s case was the best example. If the Flaming Horns didn’t help them, they would’ve followed Dian Fa to the Thousand Masks tribe or they might’ve been robbed and attacked by people like this. 

Now, even the Hui tribe and the Tianshan tribe who once detested each other formed an alliance to fight against those foreigners. On the grassy plains, they were the only two tribes worthy of leading the tribes in that region.

The tribes in the central region were already prepared so they had nothing to worry about. The Flaming River region should start to take action soon.

This was the problem Gui He had been musing about during this time.

Some smarter tribes in the Flaming River region had reached out to larger tribes to protect them. They wished to live under the Flaming Horn tribe’s protection. Thus, the Flaming Horns had to start preparing for this. 

Gui He told Shao Xuan his thoughts about the other side. He currently had no plans on implementing the slave master’s government system here with the tribes. The tribes here were more complicated compared to those on the other side and many of these tribes had only very recently merged their fire seeds or only begun to have such thoughts. The people here had been living under tribalism and their tribe was the most important thing to them. There was no way the Flaming Horn tribe could change the way these people thought in a few years’ time and make everyone agree with their ideas.

Using bloodshed to oppress the masses wasn’t a wise decision either. The Thousand Masks tribe was able to build their government system because those tribes had been living under their protection for many years, but all the tribes in the Flaming River region had been living separately all along. Some never even thought about collaborating with other tribes unless the situation was too critical. Some of them wouldn’t even come out from their hidden nests unless they were forced to.

“Right, Ah Xuan, there’s probably something you don’t know yet,” Gui He said.

“What is it?” Shao Xuan asked. 

“I only heard about this after you left for the Lu tribe,” Gui He said in a deep concerned voice. 

“Some slave masters have come over to this side.”

“Slave masters?” Shao Xuan was doubtful. If this was just a slave master of a low rank, Gui He wouldn’t have bothered to mention it.

“Basically what I mean is that these people are kidnapping tribesmen, especially children who haven’t awakened their totemic power, and then selling them to the slave masters on the other side. Or else why do you think so many of these smaller tribes are approaching us now when they have been hiding for so long?”

The small tribes here didn’t have many people to begin with. The foreigners had their eyes set on the children of these tribes. These children had not awakened to their totemic power after all, so they were easy targets and it wouldn’t be hard to deliver them or re-educate them. How could these tribesmen stay calm after their offsprings were stolen? No wonder they came rushing to the Flaming Horns seeking help. If they needed someone’s help in this region, other tribes weren’t as dependable as the Flaming Horns.

“It’s probably because more people found new ways to cross the ocean. They don’t even need to pass through the desert to come over now since there are other routes they can use by sea,” Shao Xuan said. The Longboat tribe only established one of these routes. Since they already established one, others naturally could do the same. If they travelled by sea, they could deliver more humans, so it was much better for them. Compared to back then when the disaster had just ended, more people had come over to this side from the other side. The tribes here had only recently broken free from the reins that previously bound them.

On the other side of the sea, many groups had been established and these groups had stronger teamwork compared to the tribesmen on this side. Even if many of them realised that their children had been kidnapped, they wouldn’t be able to come up with a solution in a short time, much less find the children that were kidnapped. It was hard for them to prevent this from happening again.

“That’s why we need an alliance now,” Gui He said.

“A tribal alliance?” Shao Xuan managed to guess what Gui He had in mind after understanding the problems they were facing now. 

To be the leader of an alliance!

Gui He wanted to create an alliance with all the other major, middle sized and small tribes in the Flaming River Basin. The Flaming Horns would then be considered the Head of the Alliance!

“That’s right!” Burning passion flared in Gui He’s eyes. “We don’t have enough people ourselves. Even if we add the people from Taihe tribe, Drumming tribe, and Rain tribe, it still wouldn’t be enough. When the trading point was first established, I already thought about this, but it never seemed to be the right time. Now’s the best time for this!”

Indeed, many of these tribes were deeply influenced by their firm beliefs. Even if Gui He had such plans, it would be hard to successfully build an alliance. Now, they already came knocking on the Flaming Horn tribe’s doors before the Flaming Horns even approached them. 

Under the threat of danger, these tribes were forced to look for ways to survive. For the sake of their tribe’s survival and expansion, they were forced to come out.

This was the first step these people took. Before this, they had isolated themselves from other tribesmen. 

“However, if we want to build such a big alliance, there’s a lot we need to do,” Gui He finally found someone who could understand his ideas so well, so he told Shao Xuan all the doubts and problems that were currently on his mind.

If all of these problems were to be summarised in one word, the word would be order.

Without rules and guidelines, they wouldn’t be able to establish a perfect alliance. If they were really to build an alliance, they had to have certain rules that everyone must follow. If they don’t have these rules, these people would think that they could do whatever they want even under the Flaming Horn’s protection and help. Civil wars between tribes, mixed battles, and other disastrous events would occur as an aftermath. If that were to happen, then things wouldn’t go the way they wanted. 

“Order…” Gui He murmured, “We should indeed agree on some rules. Since we decided on helping them, we must set some rules to let them know what could be done and what was prohibited. If they don’t abide by the rules, they would be forced to leave the alliance.”

The purpose of this alliance was to strengthen their forces. Its main goal was survival and expansion. This wasn’t a nonprofit organisation. Under such dangerous living conditions faced with growing external threats, if they don’t stay strong, they would all be destroyed. Here, only the strong gained respect from the rest of the world.

Shao Xuan and the other senior members of the tribe discussed for three days straight about this new project. Even Zheng Luo and Duo Kang, who had been guarding the post at the trading point had been summoned for this meeting.

This was a time when many different groups of people were in the trading point. More foreign tribesmen were here now. Technically speaking, Zheng Luo should be staying at the trading point everyday, but it was not actually the case. 

All the tribesmen in the trading point had been paying close attention to the Flaming Horn tribe’s movements. They couldn’t go to the Flaming Horn headquarters, so they could only observe what was going on in the trading point. For the past few days, people already noticed that something was strange about Zheng Luo and Duo Kang, two prominent figures in the trading point. 

”Something big is about to happen,” Yi Si said as he withdrew his gaze from outside the door. 

”Something big? Would it be a threat to us?” Grasshopper asked carefully. The Flaming Horn’s strength was what guaranteed their safety. He didn’t want anything bad to happen to the Flaming Horns.

“No, it’s something good,” Yi Si was feeling great today. He said with a smile, “I’m afraid something big is about to take place here, a good change.” He made the right choice by deciding to come here.

Grasshopper immediately chuckled. As long as nothing bad was going to happen to the Flaming Horns, he was happy. Their lives here were much better compared to when they lived on the other side after all. 

As he thought about this, a Flaming Horn soldier came rushing over delivering a beast hide scroll to Yi Si, “The Grand Elder sent this message for you.” 

The warrior immediately left after the letter had reached Yi Si’s hands. He was running towards the Flaming River Castle. 

Yi Si gave Grasshopper a look, and Grasshopper immediately went to guard at the door, preventing others from coming in and peeking at the content in the letter. 

As soon as he read the message on the beast hide scroll, Yi Si’s head tilted upward as he immersed himself in thought. Rolling the scroll, he said to Grasshopper, “Shut the door. There’s something important we must do. This is our opportunity to prove our value to them!” 

Grasshopper’s expression grew stern. He was just an employee here. His life was closely connected to Yi Si, his master, and since the Flaming Horn had given his master a mission, if his master succeeded, both of them would be rewarded. Before Yi Si finished this task given by the Grand Elder, he definitely shouldn’t let anyone inside to disturb his master. Whoever dared to disturb him would be stopped by him. No one was allowed to enter this door regardless of who they were. If anyone dared to come, Grasshopper would tear them to shreds. 

Many people sensed the strange atmosphere in the trading point. Even those who were here for the first time noticed that something was boiling under the surface, ready to erupt. They waited impatiently and nervously. They noticed that the senior members of the Flaming Horn tribe had not been here in the trading point for three days already, and they refused to meet with anyone else for the time being. 

As everyone began to speculate, the Flaming Horns announced an important news. 

The Flaming Horn tribe was going to establish a great alliance and order was to be maintained in the Flaming River region.  All tribes in the Flaming River Basin who were willing to abide and live by these rules were welcome to join the great alliance! 

This announcement was made by Gui He, Gui Ze, and Shao Xuan, the top three figures in the Flaming Horn tribe. If anyone in the Flaming River Basin were willing to comply with their rules and join the great alliance, their chiefs could come forward and join the Grand Feast at the trading point. 

The “new rules and order” were written out clearly in the announcement. 

The Flaming Horn tribe was naturally the leader of this great alliance. If anyone was unhappy about this, they could have a fight to see if they were worthier than the Flaming Horns. 

Of course, no one would be stupid enough to stand up against the Flaming Horns at a time like this.

All the tribesmen who gathered in the trading point immediately took a copy of this announcement and rushed back to their tribe. They had to inform their tribe about this important news. 

After hearing the guard’s report, Zheng Luo stood on top of the Flaming River Tower as he watched the countless figures running away into the distance. He asked Shao Xuan, “Can this Great Alliance really work as planned?” 

“We have to see how many tribes are willing to join first,” Shao Xuan said as he read the beast hide scroll he held in his hands. 

On this beast hide scroll, there was a thin line marked on the upstream portion of the Flaming River. This was part of the main river. They didn’t know of any tributaries that flowed into this part of the river. However, Shao Xuan believed that more lines would soon appear on his map as tributaries were discovered near this stream, like a giant tree growing more roots. The roots would grow longer and split into different branches. 

Meanwhile, in the Zhi tribe.

Abuli had just received a copy of this announcement. After studying the message word by word on the scroll, he still couldn’t understand the purpose of this announcement. He only knew that the Flaming Horns wanted to gather everyone to discuss something that he couldn’t understand. He didn’t mind the “new rules” that were written on this announcement. As long as it didn’t affect the profit of their tribe, he was willing to accept it. Simply put, Abuli’s mindset was: as long as he held on tightly to the Flaming Horn tribe, he wouldn’t be at a loss. At least their tribe had been living better lives after they met the Flaming Horn tribe. This was an indisputable fact. 

“I’m going to the Flaming Horn feast! Who wants to…” Abuli hadn’t finished speaking but people were already surrounding him. 

“Me me me! Bring me with you!” 

“Chief! Over here! Look at my feet! They’re so big! Bring me with you!” 

Many people started to do handstands and competed with their feet. He remembered how many people objected to his decision when he decided to go visit the Flaming Horns for the first time. Now, everyone was fighting for the chance to go visit the Flaming Horn tribe. They were even willing to fight with their feet over this opportunity. 

Somewhere downstream from the Flaming River, a group of people crowded around the entrance of a cave on a mountain far away from the Flaming River. 

“Flaming River Drainage Basin? Chief, are we part of this Basin?” someone asked frantically. They had only found out not long ago that this river was called Flaming River, and their tribe was actually quite far from the river. They were worried that they weren’t included in the Flaming River Basin. 

The person who was holding the beast hide scroll was also doubtful upon this question. After closely examining the message, he said, “The Flaming River Basin doesn’t only include the Flaming River. The tributaries count too. There’s a tributary near our tribe, so we’re probably part of this drainage basin… Yes, we’re definitely part of them! Pack your things, I’m heading to the Flaming River Trading Point. Who’s coming with me?” 

“Me!”

“I’ll go”

“Chief, let me come with you! I’m strong!”

“I run fast!”

“I’ve never been upstream. What do Flaming Horns look like?”

“I don’t know. I heard the Ya people say that the Flaming Horns look like fearsome beasts!”

“Really?”

“I want to know how many tribes are in on this.”

“There’s probably not many, I reckon. There aren’t many tribes in this region that we know of.”

“You just don’t know they exist! There’s definitely more tribes!”

“What’s the point in arguing?! We’ll know once we get there!” The chief carefully kept the beast hide scroll and walked back to his cave to pack up some things. He had not been on trips far away for many years so he was a little worried. He knew that the Flaming Horns were right. Small tribes wouldn’t be able to handle the attacks from foreign parties alone.

The phrase “alliance to defeat foreign enemies” in the announcement was enough to pique his interest.