Within Chao Qiu City, on the largest street, Qu Ce and a few Mang tribesmen walked as they observed the people here. They were wearing the Eight Limbs tribe’s speciality silk clothing and their jade discs made by themselves. The Mang tribes naturally liked to put on airs too so they could casually give the impression that they were better than the rest. They all looked intimidating and those who did not know them thought they were one of the six aristocrat families.
The two Longboat tribesmen leading them did not wear jade but deep red stone accessories. These were only found in the ocean, sturdy but can be carved into exquisite shapes. They were considered a precious stone too, for it gave a prosperous overall look. Some slave masters even bought some from their tribe at a high price once.
There were also people who wanted to learn from this trip, i.e Fan Ning, Pu Ye and Yu, trying to pick up some skills to be swindlers.
Water Tiger tribe Chief Qu Li and Sickle tribe Chief Ci were standing within a shop selling metal wares. They planned to buy metal wares as they heard that cheap and good-quality goods were common here. That was why they wanted the Longboats to bring them here. Unfortunately, they were disappointed by what they saw in the shop.
First, weapons. After getting accustomed to seeing Gongjia Ren and his mates’ goods at Flaming Horn, they could not bear to look at the weapons here. They knew how to differentiate metal grades and could tell when good-looking weapons were actually of poor quality.
They were carrying new green bronze weapons on them. Comparing what they had to the shop’s goods, they gave up on buying weapons and turned to other wares like wine jugs, cups and cauldrons.
“Loko at this! Look at the curves, the carvings, the shape of this beast…” The shop owner was promoting a metal bowl with animal carvings when he suddenly stopped.
Qu Li took out a tiger-striped gold token. He had requested for the Flaming Horns to hire the Gongjia family to make this gold token- one face bore the Water Tiger tribe’s tiger totem while the other face bore the characters ‘Water Tiger’. Carved around the token were tiger stripes that also looked like water ripples.
The shop owner stared at the gold token in Qu Li’s hand. With his experience, he could obviously tell that this was made by a master! Other than a few expensive treasures, most of the products in his shop did not have craftsmanship as good as this one.
Good blacksmith works were rare.
In terms of blacksmithery, no one dared claim they were better than the Gongjia family. There was a huge gap between Gongjia and the rest of the city. However, most of the Gongjia family’s works remained within the aristocratic community and were rarely available to the public.
The shop owner wanted to charge them a higher price for his own goods but he dismissed the thought after seeing the token. His goods were not on the same level as that token!
Would a person holding such an exquisite item fall for such tricks? A chief would not be this stupid either.
Looks like these people were not stupid, they just had high standards. The shop owner humbled himself.
Some people were easily tricked while others were not. These people were the latter. Who could pull out a token like this so casually?
Many instances like this happened, i.e. on Abuli’s side and Qu Li’s side, within Chao Qiu City. However, these people did not plan to stay and left as soon as they made their purchases.
Three hundred people bought supplies needed for four thousand five hundred people. They had to shift their goods in batches- each Flaming Horn warrior carried a small mountain on him and had to make a few trips to and fro the city.
All the far-travelled traders stared at these newly arrived strangers. They seemed dangerous, so intimidating that the locals were too scared to converse with them. All they did was crowd around and study these strangers.
They must be cautious around dangerous strangers.
The tense atmosphere remained within Chao Qiu City but the three hundred people who entered indeed only shopped and then carried their purchases out of the city. Usually, the guards would pick random people to check their goods to prevent smuggling- this was also a way for them to earn a quick buck, to the fury of many terrified small traders. However, the guards remained silent when the entire unit left the city. They were good at reading people after all. Who would dare demand bribes when the lord was on the tower?
Before Shao Xuan left, Chao Wen yelled to stop him, then tossed a fabric scroll the size of a little finger. “This is for you, from King City.”
Shao Xuan was surprised. The Yi family must have been involved if they could predict his location so accurately, even making prior arrangements to write the note and send a messenger bird over, then getting Chao Wen to pass it to Shao Xuan.
When the last Flaming Horn walked out of the city with a small mountain of goods on his back, the entire Chao Qiu City seemed to heave a sigh of relief.
They didn’t fight! Chao Wen took a few deep breaths.
Chao Qiu City was farthest from King City and used to be one of the six major tribes. The Chao family was not concerned about many things and merely minded their own business on their own land other than a few exceptions living in King City. They also sometimes robbed travellers to fill their stores so they had heard about the Flaming Horn tribe too.
He heard that the tribesmen had a lot of salt and fire crystals, were unintelligent and a bunch of stupid savages. Yet…
“Those people were completely different from the rumours.” Chao Chuan felt cheated by the rumours. Only people who were personally in the city would know that these people were not to be provoked. A few were threats even to him.
Rumours about the other side of the ocean proved untrustworthy. They must personally visit the land themselves, for believing these stories could even result in death. As the future heir of Chao Qiu City, Chao Chuan knew that this was a mistake they should not have made.
Perhaps he should take the time to cross to the other side. Of course, that was if negotiations with King City went well. If a war broke out, he would stay in his own city.
Shao Xuan did not care what Chao Qiu City thought of them. He confirmed King City’s position based on his memory and led his troops there. The tribesmen would rather rest in the rural areas outside than inside slave master cities. Compared to Chao Qiu, the wild was safer. Although they must always guard against robbers- they had already killed three groups of robbers at night. Since they made no attempts to hide their wealth in the city, they attracted many risk-takers who planned to rob them. The Flaming Horns showed no mercy.
On the next day, after killing off another group, the unit encountered a group of special people.
“Slave masters?” Mu Fa looked at the approaching group.
There were almost five hundred people ahead, three hundred of them slaves. They were all tied together with special rope and chains, watched by slave masters. None of them were the people Shao Xuan was looking for. These slaves must be locals.
The slave masters Mu Fa referred to were not city aristocrats but the slave trading organisations.
Based on where they were headed to, they must be bringing the slaves to Chao Qiu to be sold. Shao Xuan noticed that the slave market had been quite empty. Looks like it was because the slaves had not arrived.
“Is that Bi?!” There was an obvious diagram on a wagon pulled by ten slaves in front, bearing the ‘Bi’ symbol.
Once Bi was mentioned, all the tribes who lost people glared with hatred. They could not wait to slaughter all these slave masters! However, King City’s note mentioned that every city had been informed of Flaming Horn’s arrival and would not attack them. Most importantly, they emphasized that if Shao Xuan’s unit met ‘Bi’ members along the way, and the slaves were not from the Flaming River Alliance, they wished that Shao Xuan’s people would not harm them. Or their own kidnapped tribesmen would be harmed too.
The Bi people were not mild-mannered either.
The slave masters ushering the slaves were curious about Shao Xuan’s group, at the same time guarded because they did not know of the tribesmen’s intentions. They only recognised the Flaming Horn and Longboat totems, these tribes were mentioned when they discussed about the slaves that would raise the highest prices. Flaming Horns were strong, and strong slaves were expensive. Longboats were good at building boats, they were also valuable as builders.
However, the intimidating aura of this group told them that they should not do anything despite their desires to capture these tribesmen as slaves- or they would not leave this place unscathed.
Bi became the largest slave-trading organisation for a reason- their members could read the room and knew when to retreat.
In the face of seething glares, the slave master sitting on the first carriage asked calmly and professionally, “Want to buy slaves? They are new arrivals.”
“Yes,” said Shao Xuan.
Not just the slave master, even the people around were surprised. Shao Xuan wanted to buy slaves?!
The slave master was experienced too. Despite being stunned for a moment, he quickly snapped to his senses and smiled. “Pick anyone you like, prices are negotiable.”
Shao Xuan walked over and pointed at a thin slave. “Him.”
The slave master raised an eyebrow, then studied the slave that Shao Xuan picked. “Are you sure?”
“I am sure.” Shao Xuan walked over.
“Why?” asked the slave master.
“I don’t like him,” said Shao Xuan.
The slave looked up suddenly, his putting on a half-dead, pitiful look that all slaves had. But he was violently cursing inside, “How the heck did you recognise me?!”