Yi Si was left in charge of Yi Cong’s funeral paraphernalia, Flaming Horn did not interfere in the procedures. Yi Si picked a spot within the forest to bury Yi Cong. That place he chose was not within Flaming Horn hunting territory, nor were there many fierce beasts.
After Yi Cong passed away, there were a total of eight slaves left: Yi Qi’s two remaining slaves, the four slaves who went to Eagle Mountain with him and the two slaves who brought Yi Ce here, Grey Horse and Cicada. All eight slaves were gifted to their next master, who was the infant Yi Ce.
Since Yi Ce was still a child, Yi Si was naturally in charge of the slaves. As long as no harm came to Yi Ce, the eight slaves were under his charge.
With eight more subordinates and a child, Yi Si grew busier but still relatively carefree. Out of the eight, six had strong physiques and were sent by Yi Si to help at the Flaming Horn’s expansion project construction site. They also brought some food back to alleviate the burden. Yi Ce needed milk and like many children in the tribe, Yi Ce drank animal milk.
“He is probably the only child of the main Yi family who will grow up on animal milk,” remarked Yi Si.
As he sat deep in thought, Yi Si saw Grey Horse and the other five slaves return from the construction site.
“Why are you all back early?” asked Yi Si.
Grey Horse and the rest of the slaves were respectful towards Yi Si. Yi Si’s status in the Yi family did not matter-- the survival of their little master and themselves depended on Yi Si so they must be good to him.
“There seems to be an emergency with the Flaming Horns, they stopped work early today,” explained Grey Horse.
“Emergency?” Yi Si looked outside, then lowered his eyelids and pondered. After a pause, he grinned, “should be good news. Don’t worry, you just need to do your jobs well.”
At this moment, within the Flaming River Castle.
Shao Xuan looked at the animal skin scroll in his hand, then turned to look at the frowning Su Li sitting next to him.
Due to Wu He’s incident, the leader of the Changle people, Su Li, became an overseas mail carrier. At the time, he stubbornly decided that he would never deliver a second letter. However, this Changle chief was here once more with another letter from across the ocean.
The difference was that this letter came from King City.
“Why are you looking at me? Read the letter! Then hurry up and write a reply.” Su Li’s temper flared the moment Shao Xuan looked at him. Ever since Wu He’s situation was settled, he did not plan to do anything like this again, yet reality turned out to be a slap across the face. He owed Ji Fang a favour and ended up becoming a mail carrier once again.
The current lord of King City, also the person Shao Xuan saw at Gongjia Heng’s place-- Ji Fang, was the sender.
Shao Xuan, Gui He and the rest ignored Su Li’s complaints, thinking hard about the letter’s contents. In the letter, Ji Fang had hoped that Flaming Horn would temporarily maintain its neutral state and not interfere with anything. Flaming Horn was currently expanding and chaos ensued within King City. While Rock Hill City was now quiet, due to the Yi family’s instability, King City tipped over into chaos. Ji Fang was now extremely occupied so he hoped Flaming Horn would not do anything to harm King City for the moment.
As a peace offering, Ji Fang would send people to purchase the slaves that the ‘Bi’ organisation kidnapped and send them back here. He wanted Shao Xuan to list down all the tribes in the Flaming River area so that they could purchase the right people. They were not going to waste money on other people not from the Flaming River area.
As the largest slave-trading organisation in the area, the good-quality slaves sold by ‘Bo’ were definitely expensive.
“I have already listed down the tribes whose members disappeared, I’ll include the list in the letter,” said Gui He, who had rushed over, “but…”
Gui He had more to say but there were outsiders here.
All the Flaming Horns looked at Su Li in unison. Su Li was currently sitting rather impatiently.
With so many pairs of eyes on him, Su Li could not even ignore them. “What? You still need to talk? Fine, I’ll leave. Send someone when you’re done. Do you have a room? I need a nap.”
The Changle people loved to pamper themselves. That was why he wanted a comfortable place to sleep although he was just waiting for a letter. He was not worried about the Flaming Horns hurting him either.
“Hurry up!” cried Su Li before he was shooed out, turning his head to urge them.
There were no more outsiders here. Only Shao Xuan, Gui He, Zheng Luo and Ao remained.
“Do you all trust the people from the other side?” asked Zheng Luo. He did not trust them, even if the guy was a king. King City tried to kill them. However, in terms of the big picture, what Ji Fang said was reasonable.
“I don’t know the people over there well, I can’t tell you if they’re trustworthy,” said Ao, “But, the one who commanded his troops to kill the Flaming Horns was not this lord. The new lord does not intend to make Flaming Horn his enemy. At least not for the moment.”
“They said they would send the kidnapped people back,” said Gui He. “If we have to wait for them to purchase the people from Bi, then send them back, I don’t know how long it’ll be. Ji Fang only said he would do it, he did not specify a time frame. Most of the people they kidnapped were children without awakened totems.”
Shao Xuan understood what Gui He meant. King City was too far from Flaming Horn. No one was watching them and Ji Fang would not feel the pressure. His subordinates could be inefficient. When the time came, no one knew what would become of the children, or how many would survive the journey.
“When we formed the Flaming River Alliance, the Thunder Mountain and Sickle tribes mentioned their wish for Flaming Horn to bring them over to the other side so they can get their children back.
After the alliance was established, to strengthen each tribe, Flaming Horn brought them into the forest to hunt. They were much stronger now and during the half-year Shao Xuan disappeared, every time the Thunder Mountain tribe visited Flaming Horn, they would ask Gui He about visiting the other continent.
Although only Thunder Mountain came, they came in representation of the tribes with them. They did not necessarily want to go immediately- they badly wanted their people back but as a tribe, they still were not strong enough to cross the ocean. It would just be disastrous for them and they were already prepared to not see these kidnap victims forever. Every time they came to enquire, they were also trying to figure out Flaming Horn’s plans.
To be honest, although the tribes had entered the alliance and recognised Flaming Horn as their leader, some distrust lingered.
“The kidnap victims were not just children, “said Ao.
While Shao Xuan was gone, another kidnapping occurred at the trading point. The trading point was attacked by the Xun tribe, that was why Ao had to return halfway from his journey in search of Shao Xuan.
Any logical person would know that the Flaming Horns should not be provoked, especially not when the Flaming River Alliance had been established. But the Xun tribe’s people seemed insane, willing to risk their lives for profit. They were absolute madmen who could not be reasoned with.
After Shao Xuan returned, he asked Ao about the Xun tribe, to which Ao replied, “The Xun tribe no longer exists.”
The Xun tribe had not merged with their fire seed so Ao led his people over to extinguish it. Gui Ze was the one who destroyed the Xun fire seed. Xun tribe’s arch-nemesis, the Drumming tribe, and a few other tribes good at fighting from Flaming River also participated in the battle.
However, after that incident, more people disappeared. They were not killed during the battle, merely disappeared. Even when the shaman checked, the shaman could not sense their auras. They could merely sense that they were still alive, just very far away.
Some far-travelling traders mentioned that they encountered suspicious figures, to which Gui He guessed to be ‘Bi’ people.
Not just children were taken. They were already starting to take adults now.
Gui He was cautious about this.
Children required time to mature but strong men would be directly used as manual labour. That was Gui He’s guess.
“I think, we should go take them ourselves!” said Gui He in a low voice. “This is good, I wanted to go check out the legendary King City myself anyway.”
Zheng Luo and Ao did not speak, both looked at Shao Xuan.
Based on tribal law, other than the shaman, the chief had absolute power unless the Elders all objected to his decision. At Flaming Horn, Shao Xuan was an exception. His opinions held great influence, he could even veto against Gui He’s decision.
After some thought, Shao Xuan looked up. “That’s fine.”
Since Shao Xuan agreed, Zheng Luo and Ao did not object.
They discussed more, then Shao Xuan started to write their reply on an animal skin scroll. He commented, “This new lord seems very clear about what Flaming Horn wants.”
“Indeed. Looks like King City has been observing Flaming Horn, they even know what we’re thinking.” Gui He was already sceptical the moment he saw Ji Fang’s letter. Although most matters were not confidential information, his instinct told him that Ji Fang had spies here.
Zheng Luo decided to talk to each leader of the trading point patrol teams afterwards so they could watch out for any suspicious people. The people within the trading point must be searched while future travellers must also be checked more carefully.
After the meeting, Shao Xuan sent for Su Li and passed him the finished letter. “Bring Ji Fang this letter, tell him we’ll personally meet the people there. We hope to see the stolen people safe and sound when we arrive.”
Shao Xuan emphasized on his last sentence, especially ‘STOLEN’ and ‘SAFE AND SOUND’.
Su Li was initially groggy and annoyed at being woken up but perked up after listening to Shao Xuan. Heh, a show is coming! He must tell the Changle people to go watch at King City.
When Su Li left, Gui He sent out an order. “Tell each tribe that we’ll be moving son.”
Ever since Shao Xuan divided every tribe in the alliance into different zones, information dissemination became much more efficient. There was a leader tribe within each zone so they only needed to send information to the leader, then it would be passed down to other tribes very quickly. Flaming Horn no longer had to send messengers to every single tribe.