The two parties prepared to fight even before Shao Xuan had a chance to say anything. The chiefs stood in front of the teams and glared at each other murderously.
It hadn’t even been half a minute since they saw each other.
The murderous energy coming from the team that came first was very fierce. As his totemic energy surged, he instantly resembled a furious wild beast.
The totemic energy was rapidly increasing in this leader’s body. As he flexed and summoned more energy, air currents began to shoot out from his body. Suddenly, his arms bulked like it had suddenly inflated. In the blink of an eye, his muscles became twice as big as before. His height didn’t increase, but he had transformed into what looked like a strong fearsome beast. Even Yi Si’s half-beast slave’s arms were no match for his thick arms.
As he threw a punch with a fist a few times bigger than most ordinary humans, a thunderous sound rumbled from his body. The frictional forces travelling against his punch rattled the bone ornaments on his body, making clinking sounds as they tapped. It sounded like a rain that was about to fall after thunder stormed the skies. This punch could break anything that was in its way. Even mountains would crumble instantly when punched by this fist. If it landed on any ordinary human being, even if they didn’t die, they would be severely injured.
However, the group that came later looked as if they weren’t the least bit afraid of this group. It was as if they had expected this and also readied themselves for battle. Their bodies didn’t seem as strong as their opponent’s, but their totemic power was instantly activated. The previous group underwent such a huge transformation that they seemed to be able to lift two to three of their opponents. The new group didn’t rely on such physical transformations. Rather, their weapons were their main strength.
They carried curved daggers made from bones, horns, and stones. The hilts of these weapons weren’t of the same length, and there were still some dried blood marks on their blades. Those were the blood stains left over after they had “cleared up some trouble” on their way here.
The chief of this new group carried a sharp blade made from a beast fang. He shot out towards his opponent like a lightning flash. His whole body blasted forward energetically. The sharp blade in his hands was like the fangs of an open-mouthed beast, ready to bite down on the leader of the first group. As he lunged at his opponent, the energy around him was unforgiving and murderous.
The members in each team also ran behind their chief, ready to launch an attack on their enemy. The birds that gathered nearby flew away in fear. Leaves fell to the ground and were blown away by the strong winds.
The fight was about to start.
Shao Xuan never thought these people would fight so soon. They didn’t even consider where they were.
Even though this was not part of the Flaming Horn’s territory, it was close by. If they actually fought, they would cause a huge commotion. The Flaming Horns made the announcement not too long ago and the alliance hadn’t even been established. If these people began to fight even before they entered the trading point, wouldn’t they become the laughingstock of the region? Those who slighted the Flaming Horns would only grasp this opportunity to make a joke out of them for being unable to stop these people from fighting. Was this the great alliance they envisioned? Would this alliance really last?
What would those people who came to join the alliance think?
Without thinking any further, Shao Xuan immediately summoned all the totemic energy within his body. In the blink of an eye, he vanished in place.
Initially, the strongest energy came from the leaders of these two groups, but as soon as they came into contact, a stronger energy flashed between them, suppressing both their energies. This new energy was like a strong wave in the ocean, ready to collapse on them.
This intercepting energy was like a giant beast that came out from deep within the mountains. It instantly disrupted the tension in the air created by these two conflicting energies. In the air, the disrupted energies clashed into each other and exploded, sending out air waves in all directions.
The sharp ear-piercing noise was so loud that their ears hurt.
The person with bone ornaments whose punch could split mountains felt his punch stopped by something that felt like a giant rigid mountain. He could not take another step forward.
What stopped his fist was an arm lined with dancing totemic stripes. As these totemic lines moved, flames spewed out from them and enveloped its owner. Energy currents that could be noticed with the naked eye began to shoot out from every pore of this person’s body. It was as if the blood under the skin of this arm was boiling. Suddenly the temperature in the air increased manifold.
What seemed like fire snakes started to curl around his arms and Shao Xuan immediately stopped the two forces that were about to clash.
On the other side, the beast fang blade was about to cut down on his opponent. A bright metallic weapon stopped it before it could land a blow. The clang that was heard previously came from the contact between these two blades.
Shao Xuan didn’t care what these two were thinking. After he blocked both of their attacks, he turned his body around. With his feet still implanted in the ground, he shrugged his shoulders and pushed the two figures with his arms.
Both of them felt like a fearsome beast had run into them. The force that pushed them was so strong that even the grass beneath their feet flew up. They continued to fly backwards with their feet still implanted in the ground, digging a trench under them that extended ten metres back. If it wasn’t for the people in their team who were pushing against the force from behind them, the trench would’ve dragged a longer distance.
The chief with the bone ornaments on his body pushed away those who were supporting him from behind. He felt soreness in every part of his body and blood was boiling in his chest. It was as if someone had hammered down on his chest multiple times, and even as he breathed, he could taste a blood in his respiratory tract. The arm he used to punch became so numb that he couldn’t feel anything else other than the pain, but this was not the time to care for his arm injuries. He was too startled by the person who suddenly appeared in front of him.
The chief with the beast fang blade didn’t end up any better. His arms and feet were still numb and sore.
No one knew better than himself how strong his attack was just now. He was about to cut down his opponent, but even with the force he used, his attack was blocked. The heat caused by the friction between his blade and the metallic blade his new opponent held told him that this was all real. It wasn’t a dream!
His heart rate increased as he looked at Shao Xuan with surprise. His eyes widened, but he didn’t know what to say at the moment.
Who is this?!
The people who were watching the scene were all shocked and froze in their steps. Initially, they thought this was just another person they could disregard. They never expected something like this to happen. They knew clearly how strong their own chiefs were, but not only were their attacks stopped, they were even pushed away!
The crowd from both teams looked down on the trenches dug into the ground and looked up at the person who was still standing there unscathed. They felt the chills down their spine and shuddered in fear.
“Who...are you?!” the person with bone ornaments on his body asked with a doubtful tone.
“Are you a Flaming Horn?” the Sickle chief stared at him unblinkingly. The terror had already faded and the fury had vanished from his eyes. What replaced it was a burning excitement and curiosity.
The others were all shocked upon hearing this. They thought this was just another person on the road so they didn’t pay him any attention. After finding out that this was a Flaming Horn member, they had to take a closer look.
So this was a Flaming Horn member? How come he seemed different from what they heard? Didn’t Flaming Horns look exactly like fearsome beasts?
No, that shouldn’t be. Perhaps the Flaming Horn members didn’t look exactly like fearsome beasts. They were just similar to fearsome beasts. These people could already tell from how he easily stopped the two chiefs from fighting.
The Flaming Horns were this strong?
Shao Xuan pulled his hands back. Seeing how both parties had calmed, he retracted his totemic energy and the totemic lines on his body also faded. The flames around his body also disappeared.
“I’m Shao Xuan from the Flaming Horn tribe. You guys are...?” Shao Xuan looked toward both teams. They had totemic marks resembling their tribe, but Shao Xuan had never seen these marks before. That meant that this was very likely their first time here.
The Sickle chief swung his hands quickly to shake away the pain and numbness. The initially stern expression in his face was suddenly replaced by a surprised smile, “You’re Shao Xuan? Shao Xuan, the Grand Elder of the Flaming Horn tribe?!”
“Grand Elder?!” The Thunder Mountain chief took a closer look at Shao Xuan. He could feel the sensations in his arm now, but the pain he felt after Shao Xuan pushed him was still clear.
“You’re the Grand Elder of the Flaming Horn tribe?!” the Thunder Mountain chief asked again in disbelief. Even the people behind him dropped their jaws.
“Yes, that is right,” Shao Xuan nodded. He then turned to look at the chief of each group.
The Sickle chief immediately reacted. He retrieved his curved dagger and placed it back in its sheath. He took two steps forward to greet Shao Xuan and said, “I’m Ci Du, chief of the Sickle tribe. I came with my people to join the alliance upon hearing the announcement.”
Ci Du’s eyes sparkled with excitement. He held different attitudes towards different people. If he was faced with someone weaker, he wouldn’t be as amiable. The Flaming Horn tribe’s alliance was the reason they came this time, so he felt fortunate he didn’t provoke or offend him.
It was true indeed that only those who truly had power were bold enough to gather everyone to form an alliance. He heard about this Grand Elder from the Ya tribesmen before. The Ya tribesmen had told him that other names in the Flaming Horn tribe didn’t matter, but he must remember Shao Xuan’s name.
Ci Du smirked when he noticed the Thunder Mountain tribesmen were still not in their right minds. What a dumb bunch of brainless losers! He could still remember how they behaved towards this Grand Elder when they first encountered him. They didn’t even bother to understand anything about the Flaming Horns before coming here and didn’t even know who Shao Xuan was! How dare they come join the alliance without knowing such basic facts?
The Thunder Mountain chief finally came to his senses. After composing himself, he said, “I’m Lu Zhai, chief of the Thunder Mountain tribe. I came with my people to join the alliance.”
“Sickle tribe? Thunder Mountain tribe?” Shao Xuan looked at the two teams. Roughly a hundred people came from each team.
Shao Xuan’s eyes scanned the group. The Thunder Mountain tribesmen tensed up, worried that they might’ve angered this Grand Elder due to their disrespectful behaviour. They knew that many tribesmen would start a fight if they were angry, but they felt at ease after hearing what Shao Xuan said next.
“The sun already set and the drums already sounded once. As soon as they hit the drum a third time, you wouldn’t be able to cross the canal and enter the trading point by tonight,” Shao Xuan pointed in a direction with his finger, “Go this way and you will see a suspension bridge. You’ll arrive as soon as you cross the bridge.”
As he spoke, a low drum sound rang from the trading point, like a gentle roar of a beast.
That was the second drumbeat.
Ci Du initially planned on chatting longer with this Grand Elder, but he had no time to lose. They had to get there before the bridge was raised. They didn’t want to spend the night here because there might be people watching them waiting to ambush.
This was their first time at the Flaming Horn’s territory. They weren’t familiar with the roads but Shao Xuan pointed out the road to them. They only had to walk in that direction and they would reach their destination.
Ci Du ended the conversation with his thanks and left with his people in the direction they were told to go.
The crowd from the Thunder Mountain tribe also moved on. After thanking Shao Xuan, Lu Zhai went after the Sickle tribesmen and they all headed for the trading point.
Le Zhai thought about many things as he rushed to the trading point. When they first heard the announcement the Flaming Horns made, he was initially unhappy and unconvinced of the Flaming Horn’s strength.
They agreed that an alliance should be formed to fight foreign threats, but there were disagreements about who should be the leader. Before this, they didn’t know much about the Flaming Horns and only learned about them based on information given to them by the Ya tribesmen as well as the other tribes who lived nearby. There was too much they didn’t know about the Flaming Horns.
The Ya tribesmen were known for exaggerating facts and spreading rumours, so as soon as they heard anything of the sort, they would try to make sense of what they said by toning down what seemed like exaggerations to them. However, what happened a moment ago proved the validity of their statements. Even though it didn’t completely match, most of what they said was true!
That Grand Elder really surprised them.
When the drum sounded a third time, the suspension bridge was lifted. Around this time, the Thunder Mountain tribesmen and Sickle tribesmen had all crossed the bridge.
“Chief, was that really the Flaming Horn Grand Elder?” someone in the Thunder Mountain tribe’s team asked.
“Who else do you think it was?” Lu Zhai said.
“Of course! No one else could’ve blocked our chief’s punch. That had to be the Grand Elder!”
“No, I’m not talking about his strength. I thought Elders were… He’s even a Grand elder. How could he be so young?! He seems younger than me!” one of the younger members said. He was already considered outstanding amongst the younger members of his tribe, but he was no match for his chief. That person managed to block his chief’s attack without much effort. Even if his chief didn’t gather all of his strength in that punch, that wasn’t a punch that could be blocked by anyone. Shao Xuan didn’t just stop his punch. He even pushed their chief away!
“Let’s not talk about that Grand Elder for now. What do you guys think about the guards at the suspension bridge?” Lu Zhai said.
“Even though those guards don’t seem as strong as the Grand Elder, they don’t appear weak. They have a fierce aura. I heard that they got this aura from hunting fearsome beasts.”
This was the first time they noticed such a huge gap between them and another tribe!
The Thunder Mountain tribesmen weren’t the only ones who thought this way. The Sickle tribesmen were thinking the same thing. Ci Du was just more prudent, so he ordered his team members what should and shouldn’t be discussed in the trading point before they entered.
He had to admit. Shao Xuan’s appearance caught him off guard.
After the sound of the third horn, everyone in the trading point decided to rest for the day. The sun had set and night had fallen. Many of the people in the trading point gathered to discuss the tribes that had come today and then returned to their abodes as they thought about the number of tribes that were coming the next day.
There were already eighteen tribes here!
Initially, none of them expected so many tribes to come upon hearing the announcement. Even if some of these people looked down on some tribes that came, tribes were still tribes. They could look down on one tribe, but if more than one came and joined arms, it was indeed quite intimidating.
In the trading point, beside the Beast Head Gate.
The Sickle tribe’s team arrived first. Under the guard’s instructions, they arrived at a stone tablet that was ten meters wide and two meters tall.
There were some words and patterns written on this stone tablet. Those belonged to the tribes that had arrived. As soon as they arrived, they carved their tribes’ names and their totemic signs on this stone tablet. They even signed their names under their tribe’s names and totemic signs. These were all chiefs from different tribes!
Ci Du had never heard of most tribes that were carved on this stone tablet. He couldn’t recognise their signs either. He never thought so many tribes had been living along the Flaming River!
He couldn’t remember tribe names clearly, but he wouldn’t forget a tribe’s totemic sign if he had seen it once. Tribesmen usually had a better memory of totemic signs more than tribe’s names. That was why they were sure that they had never come across more than half of these tribes.
After taking the brush and ink from the guard, Ci Du drew their totemic sign in the nineteenth bracket on the stone tablet. He then carefully wrote the word “Sickle” beneath it. This was the second time he wrote a word so carefully. The last time he wrote so carefully was when he became the chief of their tribe. His whole body was covered in sweat after he finished. After drawing the totemic sign and writing their tribe’s name, Ci Du took a deep breath and wrote down his name. Finally, he stamped his handprint beside what he wrote.
Ci Du was not satisfied after he looked at the drawing and handprint on the stone tablet. It was probably because his arms were affected by the Grand Elder’s force when he countered his attack. His hands were still feeling numb and sore from it and that was why he wasn’t satisfied with what he wrote.
“Can I write it again?” Ci Du asked.
The Flaming Horn warrior chuckled and was about to reply when another voice interrupted.
“Certainly not! Move aside! It’s our turn!” Lu Zhai, the chief of the Thunder Mountain tribe shoved Ci Du and the others to the side and took the brush away from the guard’s hands.
Ci Du inhaled deeply. If this wasn’t the Flaming Horn’s territory and they didn’t have to abide by the rules, he would’ve challenged him to a fight immediately. Lu Zhai’s behaviour was unbearably rude!
However, after Lu Zhai finished writing, Ci Du felt a lot better.
Regardless of who wrote first, Lu Zhai’s handwriting was clearly worse than his own. Don’t be tricked by Lu Zhai’s calm and composed look. His hand was shaking as soon as he held the brush. It was fine when he wrote their tribe’s name. When he signed his own name, his hand was trembling so hard that the smooth lines he intended to make became wavy.
Lu Zhai was speechless.
Ci Du was trying hard to stifle his laughter since it wasn’t appropriate to laugh at a place like this, but if this was somewhere else, he would’ve burst out laughing. What an idiot! He can’t even write properly! What advantage do you have over us if you can’t even sign your name well? The Sickle tribe clearly won this time.
Lu Zhai’s expression changed as he looked at the words on the stone tablet. He asked the Flaming Horn guard with a rigid expression, “Can I rewrite it?”
“No! You said so yourself just now!”
Ci Du snatched the brush from Lu Zhai’s hands and returned it to the Flaming Horn guard.
The horn sounded twice at the Beast Head Gate.
People in the trading point were already preparing to rest. They couldn’t believe their ears! It was the horn again!
The expedition team members flipped down from their beds one after the next and craned their necks out the window to look.
“It was the horn at the Beast Head Gate!”
“It has to be! It came from that direction!”
They had been hearing the horn sound every day for the past few days, so they gained the ability to distinguish this horn sound from other sounds.
“Nineteen! There are already nineteen tribes here!”
“I wonder which tribe arrived this time! Let’s go to the streets to take a look!”
Before they even moved, the horn sounded again!
“It’s the horn again!”
“Two tribes came together!”
“Twenty! Twenty tribes!”
“Haha! I won the bet! I won!” the person who bet for twenty tribes laughed proudly.
“It’s still too early to say that. There’s definitely more tribes coming tomorrow. If there are more than twenty, you are no different from us!”
“I can’t believe so many tribes came! I wonder if these tribes are strong.”
“Hurry! Let’s go the main street before it gets too crowded!”
As soon as he entered the trading point through the Beast Head Gate, Ci Du saw a clean and wide road that was smoothly paved. Stone pillars lined the roads, carrying water moon stones that illuminated the street at night. After the sun had set, these pillars with glowing lights lined the street all the way from the entrance to the Flaming River Castle.
“This is the Flaming River Trading Point?!”
All the sights ranging from the architecture to the decorations made a huge impression on them.
However, before they took the time to appreciate the tall buildings that lined both sides of the street, people were rushing over to see them. They suddenly felt tense and intimidated.
Many windows opened and people peered out from within. Even children were leaning against the windows to look at them. Very soon, even the rooftops were crowded with people.
There were so many of them!
The number of people on both sides of the street outnumbered the number of people who came in their tribe.
Ci Du’s hand’s gripped the hilt of his beast fang dagger. He felt a desperate urge to kill.
If they were outside and so many people dared to surround them, they would definitely shed blood. But it was a different case here. The Flaming Horn guards already warned them that battles of any kind were strictly prohibited in the trading point. Plus, they came to join the alliance, so there was no way these people were going to attack them in the Flaming Horn tribe’s territory.
After looking on both sides of the street, it was clear that all of their eyes carried different intentions, but regardless of what they had in mind, none of them stepped onto the street.
“Hey! You over there! Which tribe do you belong to?!”
“Yes, you! Which tribe are you from?!” the people who came to watch them asked.
Two short chubby figures squeezed out from the crowd. Their eyes narrowed into slits and their beards moved.
“It’s the Sickle tribe! I can recognise them by their scent!” someone said.
“Huh? Even the Thunder Mountain tribe is here! The muddy smell definitely came from them!” another person shouted.
“I can’t believe they came! Hurry and tell our chief. Tell him that the Sickle tribe and Thunder Mountain tribe are here!”
The two short chubby figures vanished as the crowd swallowed them. One of them instinctively began to drill into the ground. After drilling for a moment, he realized that this was Flaming Horn ground and they weren’t allowed to dig holes here, so he stood up and ran somewhere else.
“Sickle tribe? Thunder Mountain tribe? I’ve never heard of these tribes before,” someone said.
“I’ve never heard of them either, but I think these two tribes are more difficult to defeat than those that came in the day.”
“I smell blood on them.”
“There’s already twenty tribes here. I wonder if we’ll get to thirty tribes in the next few days. (sigh) I wish I can tell our chief to let our tribe migrate to the Flaming River Drainage Basin. I want to join this Great Alliance too!”
“I’m planning on telling our chief once we get back. If we decide to migrate, we must come to the Flaming River region. Since the drainage basin covers such a huge area, we still have a chance to join this alliance.”
“Right! I agree!”
Humans were gregarious creatures. Under the influence of a crowd, they would naturally develop an urge to go along with the majority. Regardless of what they thought when the announcement was first made and what they said back then, they were all in approval of the alliance now! After seeing how many tribes had gathered, they even started to have thoughts about joining the alliance.
This scene not only gave the Flaming Horns confidence, but it also firmed the decisions of those who had chosen to come join the Great Alliance.