Days had been dull for the chief of the Changle people, Su Li. After bringing the Flaming Horn’s letter forth to Ji Fang, Su Li had immediately exited King City to avoid being regarded as a messenger. He ran as far as his legs could bring him.
He desired to watch everything unfold in King City but for some reason, the Flaming Horn’s party had yet to arrive till this day. He was better off distancing himself from the city for now. He’d step foot into King City again after the Flaming Horns had arrived.
However, other than the Flaming Horn’s visit to King City, there really wasn’t anything else interesting to look forward to. Hence, Su Li was bored out of his mind. He pondered about where to seek entertainment. If there wasn’t anything worth anticipating, he would create some fun out of nothing. Before he could even conjure a thought, he felt a rapidly approaching presence.
Su Li quickly broke out of his relaxed attitude and stared ahead into that direction cautiously. Soon, he relaxed his guard. The initial tension was replaced by a strong curiosity.
Soon after, a black figure appeared like the breeze.
It was Si.
“Yo!” Noticing the familiar face, Su Li greeted him.
This was how their usual greetings worked. Yet, Si responded like a fearsome beast who had its tail stepped on. He roared into Su Li’s face, “Scram off!”
Si did not stop. He strode away like a blizzard, the flow of air produced messing up Su Li’s unkempt hair further.
Su Li was confused by Si’s bitter demeanour. He was initially intending on cracking a joke- Hey, Old Si. Where are you in a rush to? Are you chasing after a slave?
He really wasn’t anticipating Si to be so angry. Why on earth was he so mad?
As he watched Si’s rushed exit, Su Li rubbed his chin and slipped into thought. Though Si’s pace was fast, Su Li’s eyesight was great. He could make out Si’s overall condition rather well.
When Si passed by moments ago, Su Li noticed that his cross-shaped long-handled weapon was reduced to a straight pole! If it wasn’t for the large Xi blade with the eye engraving, he wouldn’t have recognized Si’s signature weapon.
The huge intimidating weapon was reduced to this pitiful state. Could trouble have landed itself on the notorious chief of the largest slave-trading organisation?
Who was capable of hunting Si down like this?
As he pondered, he felt another approaching presence. Su Li turned around, expressions immediately freezing up. He leapt backwards abruptly, watching Shao Xuan cautiously. One finger curled, he was ready to whistle for the long-winged bird to leave. Nothing good would come from an encounter with the Flaming Horn tribe.
“W-What are you doing here?!” Su Li rushedly continued, “I’m not going to be your messenger again! I have something to do, gotta leave soon!”
As if afraid that Shao Xuan would say something, Su Li summoned the long-winged bird and quickly clambered onto its back. He quickly fled the scene, just like a rat who had met a cat.
Shao Xuan: “...” He hadn’t even said anything yet.
On the other hand, an escaping Si was cursing at Shao Xuan continuously.
‘You’re insane! I just said something wrong, initiated an attack and now I’m getting hunted down?! When will this ordeal come to an end?!’ ------ This was Si’s first experience at a dangerous situation like this.
After the battle that night, Si had temporarily suppressed all urges to confront the Flaming Horns directly. Who would’ve known that Shao Xuan would chase him down from behind and attack him without any intention to stop? Initially, Si had thought about revenge but after multiple days of Shao Xuan’s assault, Si had changed his mind. Next time, it was better to just listen to Ji Fang’s words and leave the Flaming Horn tribe alone. It would save him from becoming the target of a maddened hunt just because of some poor choice of actions and words.
Si ran here and ran there. In the end, he decided to escape to King City to borrow Ji Fang’s power to end this ordeal. If he knew that getting involved with the Flaming Horns would land him in such a sticky situation earlier, he would’ve never sent his subordinates onto Flaming Horn territory to harvest slaves.
King City, within the palace.
Ji Fang’s eye was twitching, the threat of impending doom looming over his senses.
After some thought, Ji Fang asked someone beside him. “Calculate the dates. How long until the Flaming Horns arrive in the city?”
“They’ll reach King City within three days, my lord.” Someone reported softly from somewhere not far from Ji Fang.
“Mm.” Ji Fang thought about the deployment made after receiving the letter from Su Li. After the Flaming Horns’ arrival, King City should be spared from too much trouble.
And so another two days have passed.
The whole of King City felt exceptionally tense today. Though there have been increased patrols around the city since some time ago, the atmosphere today was definitely off. It almost felt like the city was fully on guard.
The people of King City suspect that something major was about to happen within these few days. However, two days have passed without events. Assumptions and discussions grew stronger following that. Theories about the Flaming Horn tribe’s incoming arrival was nothing new to them. However, their responses were vastly different from how the population of other cities would react.
Huh? The Flaming Horns were coming?
‘The same tribesman that beat up Lubi and partially disabled the Lu family’s last head is visiting again? Really?! That’s great! This is amazing news! We’re in for a show again! It took the city so long to repair the destroyed gates. I wonder what will happen this time.’
Those were the general thoughts of King City’s population. They were eager to see some action. The business owners and caravan members, on the other hand, had thought differently.
As soon as word about the Flaming Horn’s visit was received, they rejoiced. ‘I heard that the Flaming Horns were rich and stupid! This is awesome. When they come, we’re going to milk them dry of money!’
And so, the Flaming Horn’s arrival had become the hottest topic among the people of King City. There were even rumours that the Flaming Horns were looking into settling down in King City. In that case, the Lu family and the Fox tribe were bound for doom.
Because of the Flaming Horns, everyone in King City couldn’t be bothered with the current hottest topic- the Yi family- anymore.
The bigger and smaller families of King City bore different thoughts about the arrival. Yet, the attention was placed on the Lu family and fox tribe specifically.
Everyone knew that the two families had run into some conflict with the Flaming Horns back then. Members of the Linlu tribe and fox tribe willed to beat Shao Xuan up badly. Despite that, the people of King City could clearly remember that the Lu family head was sent flying over their heads with just a punch from the city’s gate.
As for the fox tribe, they were forced into King City one harsh winter. Due to that, they were always lacking some kind of dominance, which failed them to become one of the strongest existence in the city. It was an inherently bad choice to depend on the Yi family as their decision had landed them in bigger trouble. In terms of hatred towards the Flaming Horns, the fox tribe would probably reign as champions.
Hence, as soon as they heard that the Flaming Horns were visiting again, the two families had gathered together to form a pact. They bribed the guards at the gates and dispatched more manpower to build up the defence in hopes to intimidate the Flaming Horns.
They had no idea how big the current visiting Flaming Horn party was. Based on their logic, their numbers would be few as they needed to cross the ocean and trek a long way to reach King City. The Flaming Horns would certainly be exhausted and vulnerable when they arrive at the city gates. This would be their best chance to attack.
This time, they planned to trample on the Flaming Horns to showcase themselves.
“I heard that the Flaming Horns will arrive today.” Luming’s eyes were dark. He could clearly remember the humiliation back then. Until this day, the Black Bear party would still mock the Lu family whenever they come across each other.
“I don’t know for sure if Shao Xuan from the Flaming Horns will be arriving today as well.” Lubi’s bear-like build stood at a corner rigidly. The huge hammer in his grip made his overall appearance dark and brooding.
Years ago, Shao Xuan had snatched Lubi’s hammer over and chased him down in public. It was absolute humiliation to Lubi. He was currently way stronger than before, his innate talent was definitely uncontestable. Even the leader of the Black Bear party, Beimi, continued to refuse to compete against Lubi till this very day. In terms of violent combat, this highly-talented prodigy of the Lu family was definitely advantageous.
On the tower, an armoured young man peered into the distance. This type of armour was only worn by the leader of the guards. Upon closer inspection, one would notice that the sword in his grip bore a grain leaf engraving. This was the emblem of the Ji family.
Someone stepped forward and studied the handful of Lu family members beneath. Then, he turned to question the armoured young man. “Are you really not going to tell them the truth?”
“No. They’ll find out real soon.” The young man could not be bothered to spare another glance at the scheming Lu family and fox tribe members at the base of the tower.
In the Black Bear party’s yard.
The two brothers, Maojin and Maoda, were brushing the fur of a cart-pulling bear while the other teases the bear with a stick stained with beast blood respectively.
The cart-pulling black bear roared. It opened its jaw wide and began chasing after the stick. It looked ferocious but in reality, it was just trying to have some fun. When its nose was lightly tapped by the stick, it merely roared out twice as a protest and retracted its neck with twitching ears.
“Sir, say, what do you think the Flaming Horns are aiming for this time around?” asked Maojin.
The nearby Beimi, who was reading newly-received information, shook his head. “I have no idea.”
“Do you think the Shao Xuan fella would come?” Maojin asked again.
As they spoke, the playing black beat suddenly froze. Its disc-shaped ears twitched, attention no longer on the wooden stick in Maoda’s grip. It stood up towards a direction as if trying to inspect something. Sadly, everything around it was tall walls and buildings. There was no way for it to look into the distance.
“What’s wrong?” Maoda swayed the wooden stick in its face. Noticing the black bear’s disinterest and anxious behaviour, Maoda locked eyes with Maojin. Instantly, they abandoned the stick and brush to dash onto the rooftop. Together, they gazed into the direction of King City's gates.
From a distance away, a wolf’s howl was heard. Despite the bustling city noises, the howl had reached their ears crystal clear.
There was a shift in Beimi’s expression. He was a man who had experienced many things. He picked up some clues from the beast’s howl.
“It’s coming from outside the city’s gate!” Maoda extended his neck. Despite standing on the roof, he was only able to see the taller city walls around the gate.
“The patrol team is moving towards that direction!” Maojin sounded excited. “They’re here! Surely, the Flaming Horns have arrived!”
“But… What’s with the howl earlier?” asked Maoda.
“We’ll find out once we get a look.” Beimi began striding out of the yard towards the outside.
Maoda and Maojin quickly followed.
There were commotions in every corner of King City.
The wolf howl that came from outside the city had caused many of the gossiping folks to fall silent. What followed after were fiercer discussions. Unable to suppress their strong curiosity, some of them put down their tasks and began moving towards the city gates.
The Yi family.
Those who were protected by Yi Tuan during the battle with Yi Xiang went ghastly pale. They were the ones who had survived the internal and external chaos and continued to cling onto the Yi family headquarters.
HE is here! Again!