This was the first time the Flaming Horn tribe made a public announcement to gather everyone in the Flaming River region. The tribes that were invited this time were different from the last grand feast, back when the trading point was first established. Back then, even tribes from the central region were invited. This alliance was going to influence the future of the Flaming River Basin.
Something huge was about to happen in the Flaming River Basin, and no one could deny it. Anyone with eyes could tell.
Some were happy while others fretted. The Flaming Horns, especially the senior members, hadn’t slept for a few days now. They couldn’t help it. It was too stressful!
What if only a few tribes came upon hearing the announcement? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing for the Flaming Horn tribe?
All of them were extremely worried, Gui He included. Shao Xuan was the only one who was still able to do what was supposed to be done.
“Leader, how many tribes do you think will come over?” Duo Kang asked worriedly as he gazed down from the top of the Flaming River Tower, the highest tower in the trading point. He was standing under the Flaming Horn flag. Obviously, the number of people in the trading point had greatly decreased.
Zheng Luo sighed as he looked out the trading point. He scanned the grounds far away and said, “I can’t say for certain.”
“There should be at least ten, right?” Duo Kang counted with his fingers. The Rain tribe, Tai He tribe, Drumming tribe, and the Lu tribe were definitely joining the Alliance. Duo Kang wasn’t sure if the Pu tribe, Tu tribe, Ya tribe, and Gu tribe were going to come. He didn’t know these tribes very well so he had no clue what they had in mind.
Some tribes that lived even farther away as well as the others who came to seek for the Flaming Horn’s help would probably join them too, wouldn’t they? Even if many of them were unwilling to join, shouldn’t there be one or two of them at the very least?
“Yes, there should be ten tribes at the very least,” Duo Kang mustered some confidence and said firmly. They were astonished when they first heard Gui He and Shao Xuan’s plan too, especially when Shao Xuan told them about the future they envisioned. Of course, their plan sounded ideal, they just never implemented it before, so they weren’t sure if it would succeed. They could only wait patiently for the results.
“I didn’t hear the horn sound today,” Zheng Luo sighed as he watched the sun set.
“It’s still too early. Let’s wait for a few more days. I’m sure it will sound then,” Duo Kang said after some hesitation.
After he descended the Flaming River Tower, Zheng Luo walked out of the trading point.
There were three gates into the trading point. After this announcement was made, they began renovating one of these gates, making it the biggest gate into the trading point.
Two giant beast heads made of stone were placed on the side in front of this gate. They were roughly the same size.
These two beasts belonged to different species. One was a carnivorous beast and bore sharp fangs while the other was a giant herbivore with huge horns. They were both at the top of the food chain and weren’t easy targets to hunt in the forest. Every time the Flaming Horn hunting team set out to hunt for these prey, they had to plan carefully and work as a team to successfully capture them.
This time, even though the material they used to make these beast heads were carved from stone, the fangs and horns were all real. They were precious items they kept after a hunt. Now, it was finally time to put them to use.
The carving of these two beast heads was not done excellently and there were many rough parts that were not polished.
Even though the job wasn’t excellent, people could already recognise the looks of these beasts. The vague outlines of the statues only filled the statues with more life and wildness.
The stones selected to make these beast heads were material of middle to upper grade. The Flaming Horns invested a lot of effort into this alliance. No wonder Zheng Luo and the others felt concerned and anxious, even stressed about this.
This gate was the largest entrance into the trading point, so it was called the Beast Head Gate.
The horn sound Zheng Luo mentioned were horns that were placed inside the beast head statues. If any tribes arrived to join the alliance, the guards here would sound the horns.
Unfortunately, they hadn’t heard the horn sound up till now.
The reason the Drumming tribe, Taihe tribe, Rain tribe, and Lu tribe didn’t come right away was that they lived too close. They could come over as soon as the feast was about to begin. That was why the people the Flaming Horn tribes were expecting were mainly tribes that lived farther away.
After taking a glance at the Beast Head Gate, Zheng Luo asked the guard who stood at the gate, “Did you see the Grand Elder?”
“I think he’s over there,” the warrior pointed in one direction.
Zheng Luo began to walk in that direction. That was where the King Stoneworm had passed and it was now part of the Flaming Horn’s territory. They just haven't begun construction there. Initially, they wanted to expand the trading point to this area but they didn’t have enough manpower, and since the trading point was already big enough to contain everyone who was coming over, there was no need for such an expansion.
When Zheng Luo saw Shao Xuan, Shao Xuan was sitting on some rocks with a beast hide scroll in his hand. He seemed to be drawing something.
Zheng Luo went over to look at what he was drawing but he couldn’t understand it.
“What are you drawing?” Zheng Luo said.
“A blueprint,” Shao Xuan stopped drawing and stretched his stiff neck. He had been sitting here for a whole day.
“A blueprint? Are you planning on expanding the trading point?” Zheng Luo was shocked. If it wasn’t for expanding, what use was there for a blueprint?
“I think it’s about time we expand,” Shao Xuan stood up from the rock he was sitting on.
“But you said before that we don’t have many people so there’s no point for an expansion.”
“Very soon more people will arrive,” Shao Xuan said.
After some thought, Zheng Luo understood what Shao Xuan meant.
“Are you that certain that the alliance will succeed?”
Seeing how calm Shao Xuan was, Zheng Luo regained some confidence. Initially he wanted to ask Shao Xuan to perform a knot divination to predict how many tribes were coming, but seeing how confident he was, there seemed to be no need for it.
Zheng Luo felt less burdened after he heard what Shao Xuan said. Since Shao Xuan was so confident about this, they only had to wait a little longer.
Actually, Shao Xuan’s confidence was just an intuitive feeling. Besides making the announcement public, he had also asked the Ya tribesmen to help spread the message to everyone in the region.
Most tribes in the Flaming River region disliked people from other tribes and refused to get along with anyone other than their own, but the new threats in the region left them no choice since they didn’t have enough power to defend themselves. One of the reasons they never came up with a plan to fight against these threats was the fact that news often arrived too late.
Shao Xuan didn’t just ask the Ya tribesmen to deliver this news. He was also spreading a new way of thinking. He wanted to let these people know that the foreigners that came over this time were not just strong, they had great ambition too. Luckily, there were only very few of them here at the moment, so as long as the local tribes worked together, they could stand strong against these foreigners. The Flaming Horn’s role in this alliance was merely to function as the core, bringing everyone together.
If it wasn’t for all the foreshadowing and threats they were facing from foreigners now, Shao Xuan wouldn’t have been able to find out how these local tribes were planning to react.
He already did what he had to do. Now, all that’s left was to wait.
After Zheng Luo left the trading point, some Flaming Horn soldiers who were guarding at the Beast Head Gate also began to discuss how many people were coming. They didn’t have to take turns guarding here to find out how many tribes were coming. As long as they heard the horn sound, they would know that a tribe had arrived.
“How many tribes do you guys think are coming?”
“Nonsense! If you count all the tribes that are already on our side, there are already four. There can’t be just five!”
“I’m guessing twenty!”
“There probably won’t be twenty. I’m guessing fifteen.”
The Flaming Horns were not the only ones discussing this though. The expedition teams that had come to the trading point were all discussing it in the inns. Initially, many of them planned to leave as soon as they finished trading, but after hearing the Flaming Horn’s announcement about the alliance, all of them became curious and decided to stay for a few more days to watch how successful this alliance was. Some couldn’t wait to see the Flaming Horns become the laughingstock of the region.
“Let’s make a bet! Let’s have a guess of how many tribes are going to join this alliance!”
“I’m betting for less than ten tribes!”
“I agree with him!”
“I think the Flaming Horns will do well. I’m betting less than fifteen.”
“I’m betting twenty!”
“Twenty? Have you gone crazy?!”
“Since the Flaming Horns are so strong, there should be many tribes coming!” the person who bet twenty put on a serious face and said confidently.
‘What a bootlicker!’ the others thought. He knew that there were Flaming Horns watching around them. He purposely said it to flatter them. Or else why did he only place one beast fang on the table? If he was so confident, why not place a bigger bet?
All the foreigners and Flaming Horns in the trading point perked up their ears and waited for the horn to sound. Unfortunately, they didn’t hear any horn sounds for a few days straight.
However, they knew that many of these tribes were coming from distant places so they wouldn’t be able to make it here so soon. Plus, this was a huge matter, so they had to discuss before deciding whether or not to come. Days passed by, and yet the horn remained silent.
Up till the seventh day, the horn finally sounded. The Tu tribe arrived.
On the tenth day, the Ya chief also appeared at a tunnel nearby and entered the trading point with around a hundred Ya tribesmen. This was the second time the horn sounded.
On the fifteenth day, the Gu tribe and Jing tribe both arrived at the same time, so the horn sounded twice at the Beast Head Gate.
After the fifteenth day, the horn sounded even more frequently. It would sound every day, sometimes even continuously within one day. Some of these smaller tribes were allies after all, so they felt safer travelling to the trading point together.
These weren’t the only tribes that were in the Flaming River Drainage Basin. The number of tribes that were deciding to join the alliance and abide by the new rules were increasing day by day. Perhaps there were still some who were watching the commotion and hesitating on joining, but many had commenced to take action.
On this very day, Shao Xuan was taking a walk outside the petrified grounds.
The man made canal surrounded the trading point and the petrified grounds. This canal served as a waterway for people to go around the Giant Bridge and also functioned as a line of defense.
The suspension bridge across the man made canal was lifted upon sunset everyday. As soon as the bridge was lifted, people would have to wait til the dawn of the next morning to cross it.
When Shao Xuan crossed the suspension bridge, he saw some green-black coloured figures in the river. Some even had protruding bone plates on their backs. As these fishes swam across the waters, ripples spread out from their bodies.
These were the fishes gifted to Shao Xuan by the Di Mountain tribe. Shao Xuan had stopped caring about them ever since he dumped them into the canal. After he came back from the trip to the Lu tribe, these fishes were already as long as his arm. It was shocking to see how rapidly they grew. The warriors who were guarding at the post here told Shao Xuan that the pterosaur had been feeding these fishes all this time, and it hadn’t stopped.
Shao Xuan had no clue what the pterosaur was planning this time, but as long as it didn’t eat these fishes, he didn’t mind. It was helping him care for these fishes anyways.
A low and deep horn sound rushed up to the clouds and echoed across the forest.
Shao Xuan looked over to the trading point. Another tribe had arrived. They didn’t come from the suspension bridge, so they probably came by boat on the Flaming River.
Zheng Luo and the others felt more at ease after seeing the number of tribes increase day after day. There were already more than ten tribes here, even more than they had expected. Now, all they had to do was wait for tribes that were farther away to arrive. They might need a few more days before they get here.
Shao Xuan didn’t go back to the trading point. After crossing the suspension bridge, he took a walk outside. He observed the topography of the ground and checked to see if they needed to add more defenses here.
“We need to chop down more trees. The people on the whistle tower can’t see what’s happening on the other side of the canal,” Shao Xuan muttered to himself. He suddenly halted and looked toward the trees not far away.
Someone else had arrived. There were quite a lot of them too.
The sound of their bodies rubbing against the bushes. It was barely audible. It was clear that these people were vigilant and careful about their movements.
Cling, cling, cling---
Hard objects clinked loudly. It sounded like bone ornaments.
Shao Xuan stopped moving and just stood there. He wasn’t trying to hide himself because the other party probably noticed him already. That was why the leader of this group halted for a moment before he started walking again.
Very soon, those people came out of the woods. The material of their clothing was mainly made from beast hide and many of them wore bone ornaments, especially the leader. Beast fangs and beast bones decorated their bodies from head to toe. Just like most tribesmen would, they dressed up before they came here.
Shao Xuan’s eyes scanned this group. They were all young and strong totemic warriors. All of them, male or female, had a combative spirit that was sharp as daggers.
This was a combative tribe.
“Who are you?!” a member of this team took a step forward and glared at Shao Xuan.
The leader of this group turned his head sideways and his laser beam eyes scanned the grounds around them. He raised his hand to stop those who were about to speak. His arms were like a strong wall, stopping those who were about to take a step forward.
“Are you an expedition team member? Or did you come here because of the announcement?” the person asked in a deep voice.
Shao Xuan was frowning. He was about to answer this question but his head turned to one direction. Someone else had arrived.
The person who asked him this question stomped his feet into the ground and his energy surged. The beast hide clothing he was wearing started to flap due to the strong energy currents emanating from his body.
The clothes seemed loose on his body, but as totemic lines began to surface and his energy increased, his body began to bulge. All of a sudden, his clothes became tight on his body. The air whistled where his arms swept, like a cold winter wind ready to strike.
Behind this person, everyone else in the team also activated their totemic energy as they looked cautiously in one direction.
Very soon, another group appeared in the direction they were facing. The leader of this new group scoffed, “Thunder Mountain tribe? I never thought I would see you guys here!”
“Sickle tribe?! What are you guys doing here?” The Thunder Mountain chief’s tone was extremely rude. It was clear that these two parties didn’t get along.
“Of course we came for the same reason,” the Sickle chief said with cold eyes.
The two parties were in a tense standoff. Standing between the two tribes, Shao Xuan was completely ignored by both sides.