Though Mu Fa had never once encountered the infamous legendary Chief Si of the ‘Bi’ organisation, he had heard about Si’s appearance. Ever since Si became the leader of the slave-trading organisation, the man’s name gradually became common knowledge among the general public. Mu Fa had even heard that many adults in some of the bigger cities would use Si’s name to scare their children. “You’d better behave yourselves or Si will take you away!”---- was common to instil fear in children.
Mu Fa had even heard from some of the slave traders that those threats were not necessarily fake.
The large scythe-like item in Si’s grip was actually a (十) cross-shaped staff. The top of the staff was a sharp Xi in the shape of a beast fang.
It looked vastly different from Xi-s that were primarily used to untie rope knots. Instead of a larger Xi, perhaps it was best to describe the Xi on the tip of Si’s staff as a Xi-shaped metal blade instead. Its edges were sharpened till razor-sharp, emitting off a cold glint of light as Si moved in the dark. The Xi at the tip bore a glyph of an eye, which was the sign for an observer. If gazes were met with the glyph, one would feel watched. They would feel like a slab of meat thrown onto the chopping board while the other party scrutinized you for your worth.
As the head of the slave traders whose name could easily drive children to tears, Mu Fa put his guard up against the approaching figure.
Lu Zhai, Ci Du, Qu Li and the others too were on guard.
At Si’s appearance, the tightly restrained Robber Seven languidly took one glance in the direction and averted his eyes to the night skies. He blatantly ignored the distant glare that bore heavy murderous intent directed at him. Robber Seven’s was calmer than ever, at least on the surface.
Shao Xuan looked at the approaching Si, then whipped his head around to study his surroundings. Si had brought company.
Cling clang cling---------
Under the moonlight, rushed footsteps rang. Six thin black-robed half-masked figures appeared with chains in their grips. Each metallic clink of the chain was accompanied by glinting cold sheens. They were equally divided into two flanks. The frontmost moved with Si to form a curved half-circle formation. Shao Xuan and his party, on the other hand, were enveloped in its centre.
The line-up of dark clothed figures brought a sense of deja vu. It felt almost like a group hunt, but instead of the Flaming Horns closing in on a certain beast, it was the Bis closing in on them. Mu Fa heard that no one had ever made it out of the metal chains if caught.
Once they were fifty steps away, Si and his party halted. Their gazes were icy, even the surrounding temperature had felt like the sheer malice lowered it. Their cold glares swept through Shao Xuan’s party and finally paused on Robber Seven. They glared daggers, attention frozen on Robber Seven’s being as if overwhelmed with the urge to skin him alive.
There was no way Robber Seven did not pick up on their glares. However, the man continued to stare at the sky, blatantly ignoring Si and his seven-membered party. Robber Seven pursed his lips indifferently.
The metal chain wielding bunch was Si’s most trusted subordinates. They too were involved in the hunts for Robber Seven. The robber deemed them not worthy of his thought. They had searched high and low for him, and yet Robber Seven had always escaped undetected. Simply put, they were a bunch of useless fools in the robber’s eyes. Robber Seven would rather weigh his escape options than to think about these idiots.
Si removed his murderous intent from Robber Seven momentarily to look at Shao Xuan and his party. Displeased, he frowned. “Where is it?” His voice was as coarse as scraping cold metal chains. It radiated heavily of iciness, able to send shivers down one’s spine.
It was then that Robber Seven gave up playing dead. He rolled his eyes at Si. “Don’t ask me,” said the robber while he pointed his lips at Shao Xuan. It was a notion for Si to look to the side.
Brows tightly knitted, Si’s overwhelming chilliness intensified. He could feel that the stolen bone lock was no longer in proximity. He had followed its trails but were only met with this bunch of strangers.
His eerie gaze was removed from Robber Seven and placed on Shao Xuan, who was in the front. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly as if the opened shackles were about to buckle onto the target.
“A Flaming Horn?” Though it was supposed to be a question, Si’s tone had indicated his confirmation.
Si studied the other five people. Aside from Shao Xuan, the others weren’t from the Flaming Horn tribe. They were all from different backgrounds but…
Si had stared at Gan Qie the longest. The others were easy to read, including the only Flaming Horn present. They were not all that unique to Si but the most puzzling person had to be Gan Qie. With his perception, Si felt like this person should be dead. He couldn’t comprehend this, this was truly odd.
However, the direst matter now was to retrieve his stolen bone lock. Everything else could wait for another time. Due to the existence of fire seeds, there were always tribes that were different from the others. The corpse-like person was perhaps an example of it. Could he withstand hits? If he was a fighter, could he fetch a high price as a slave? Occupational habit took charge and the first thing that crossed Si’s mind was the potential price of this person if sold as a slave.
After pondering for a moment, Si looked at Shao Xuan. He knew that the current party was led by the Flaming Horns. Hence, he needed to look at the Flaming Horn representative in the eye.
“Did you take it?” asked Si. Before Shao Xuan could answer, he interjected, “Hand it over!” Shao Xuan was not spared a chance to explain. Si only wanted his lock, anything else was pointedly irrelevant.
“It’s not here,” said Shao Xuan.
“Of course I’m aware that it’s not here. But I’m asking YOU to GIVE IT BACK TO ME! Or else…” With a movement of his wrist, a flash of metal whistled by. The pointed edge of the Xi blade was aimed in Shao Xuan’s direction.
“Or else what?” Shao Xuan challenged.
“Or else you’ll all be enslaved!” Si finished coldly.
Just like Robber Seven had mentioned, the Bi organisation members had kept the tradition of appointing an observer. This also meant that they judged everyone as they were slave-browsing. Typically, they wouldn’t attack a free man. By definition, a free man was essentially an ex-tribesman that had left the tribe and did not belong to any organisation. They would be nomads who moved freely. However, if the slave-traders had come across extremely valuable free men, they would too enslave said person.
This was the reason why many would avoid the ‘Bi’.
But of course, dire times like the current shortage of slave stock would drive them to make a move on the tribes. It would be rather troublesome to attack the tribes on this side of the continent but if they attacked the other continent nearest to the coast, everything would be much easier.
Did they not know that the Flaming Horn tribe could put up a fight? Well, they were fully aware of that. Before they began the operation, they had done extensive research. They had even sent members out to attack the surrounding tribes around the Flaming Horn territory as a preventive measure. However, they had truly underestimated the Flaming Horn tribe’s competence. They were even more surprised that Ji Fang would personally interfere with their operation on the Flaming Horns with an order.
To release the slaves they captured for no reason? That didn’t make any sense? This severely deviated from Bi’s philosophy.
Unfortunately, the order was given by Ji Fang and while Si wasn’t pleased, he wouldn’t ruin the working relationship between them just for a few slaves. However, there was a shift in events. Since Si had come face to face with the Flaming Horn tribe and the latter was holding onto his belongings, Ji Fang’s orders would be largely ignored.
The Bi’s work ethic would be to never let go once they settled their fangs on captured flesh. Even if their prey weren’t captured in the end, they would still need to inflict notable damage to teach them the power of the strongest slave-trading organisation to exist----Bi! Fear was their best medal.
Mu Fa stared at Si in shock, realizing that the man was actually serious. Si was actually intending to ignore Ji Fang’s order and attack a Flaming Horn? Mu Fa turned to look at Shao Xuan in an attempt to gauge the Grand Elder’s response. Weirdly, he could not sense anything from Shao Xuan. The only thing notable was the odd atmosphere.
Shao Xuan’s tone was oddly nonchalant. It sounded as if they were engaged in a casual dinner conversation. There was not even the faintest hint of anger on his face. Despite that, Robber Seven, who was near Shao Xuan, shuddered abruptly. Following that, the robber became excited, laughing maniacally.
He said it! Si actually said it!
When Robber Seven felt like the biggest enemy of the Flaming Horn tribe and that his future was nothing but a span of darkness, a bigger idiot had emerged. This fool had committed something that would garner more hatred than he could, how could Robber Seven not feel excited about this? Robber Seven knew that the tribesmen absolutely despised being referred to as ‘slaves’. Back then, several large tribes had battled slave masters in the desert. It was natural for Si’s words to trigger fury. The other tribesmen in Robber Seven’s proximity looked like they were about to explode.
Qu Li’s fists were clenched so tight that his finger joints were popping. Lu Zhai and Ci Du’s expressions turned sour while Gan Qie… Gan Qie was still as usual. He was not enraged but was merely curiously studying Si and the other black-clothed figures who were wielding metal chains.
Robber Seven’s mood had lightened greatly. After he was captured by the Flaming Horn, he had told them all he knew and even played along as bait. He had agreed to this fuss-free not out of fear towards Shao Xuan. Instead, Robber Seven had full intention to slip away during the exchange between the Flaming Horns and Si. He would find a chance to run away. After all, chaos could be expected since the Flaming Horns were not fond of the ruthless slave masters that preyed on tribesmen. However, Robber Seven truly wasn’t expecting Si to be crazier than anticipated.
Yes. To Robber Seven, anyone who dared to threaten Shao Xuan with enslavement must be out of their mind.
Robber Seven lifted his head once again and stared at the night sky. The stars were brilliant tonight, the perfect day to execute a quick escape.