When Si saw Gongjia Heng, he wasted no time, tossing the Xi that was shaved into a rod at him.
The sickle had weight. Although it had been shaved, it was still heavy to a normal person. As a blacksmith, Gongjia Heng had strong arms so he caught the sickle firmly and studied it.
The other Gongjia people also leaned over to study the cross-section.
The only ones in the room were important in the Gongjia family, considered Gongjia Heng’s most trusted ones. Si was not afraid of them spreading information either, so he let them study it.
“This cross-section…” Gongjia Heng rubbed it with his finger, feeling the cut cross-section while his eyes studied every tiny detail.
The other person’s weapon must be sharp and hard to create a cut like that. They must be very strong too. Most importantly, Gongjia Heng knew that the long-handled weapon was made of a material he did not recognise! This piqued his curiosity. “Describe what happened.”
Si refused to recount his memories, nor would he ever describe how Shao Xuan cut it. It was so humiliating, how could he tell them?
“It’s fine if you don’t, why don’t you tell us how their weapon looked like.” Gongjia Heng recalled all the different weapon materials he had encountered before. None of them could produce a cut like this, the grains were very foreign to him.
“You guys don’t know?” Si’s eyes scanned across Gongjia Heng and the other few craftsmen in surprise. But he could not describe Shao Xuan’s knife either. “It’s a knife but I did not pay much attention. I just know that there were Gongjia cloud patterns on it, that much I am sure. Out of your people who left the family, has anyone gone to Flaming Horn?”
“Flaming Horn?! The person who slashed the sickle handle was Shao Xuan of Flaming Horn?” asked Gongjia Heng.
“Yes, do you know Shao Xuan? Right, I heard Flaming Horn’s Shao Xuan once came to King City and you made a sword for him. You didn’t make that brat’s knife too, did you?!” Si’s pitch went up at the end of his question accusingly, glaring at Gongjia Heng as if he was about to devour him.
Gongjia Heng ignored the threatening glare, merely shaking his head with furrowed brows. “No. Although I have gifted some knives, swords and axes to Flaming Horn, out of those weapons, only Shao Xuan’s sword was the best. The rest would not be able to slash your Xi sickle. Forget about the rest, even the sword I gave him might not be able to break it.”
“Then which Gongjia member has been making knives for Flaming Horn?!” Si was furious.
“Unless…” said an elder person hesitantly. “Gongjia Ren…” When Ji Fang usurped the throne, a portion of the Gongjia family left, including Gongjia Ren. Other people might not know where he went but their close associates knew that Gongjia Ren and his mates had gone to the other side to seek refuge at Flaming Horn.
Gongjia Heng thought of him too but felt like it was impossible. How long had he been gone? Gongjia Ren had never gone to Gongjia Valley, never received his ancestor’s knowledge. Even if he was talented, there were many more talented people in the family. How did he make this?
When the Gongjia people were busy guessing the maker of Shao Xuan’s knife, the Flaming Horn unit had arrived at the palace. Of course, not everyone entered. Shao Xuan led two hundred people into the palace while the rest remained outside. Ji Fang had arranged for a place for them to settle down.
The first time Shao Xuan met Ji Fang, he was still just a prince and kept a low profile. Now, Ji Fang radiated opulence and luxury.
Although he did not welcome them personally at the city gates, he sent his younger brother while he greeted them with his people at the palace gates. It was a sign of respect.
“Long time no see.” Ji Fang was smiling. Clad in exquisite embroidered clothing, he oozed indescribable aristocracy. The regality in his movements was indeed fit for a ruler.
Shao Xuan’s aura was quite different from Ji Fang’s people. Although Shao Xuan and his people did not radiate luxury, they had their own Flaming Horn hardiness.
The ones who could enter the palace with Shao Xuan were leaders and elites from Flaming River. No matter how anxious they were, they would never look weak before the aristocratic slave masters.
Ji Fang had ordered his people to prepare a feast for that night. Although it was still early, Ji Fang did not even give Shao Xuan time to ask him about Si, immediately sending for the ‘missing’ tribesmen.
Ji Fang did not lie. All the captured people were treated well in King City regardless of how they suffered before arrival- at least they looked more energetic when presented before Shao Xuan and his group.
He was about to talk about the great treatment these slaves had in King City when he paused, losing his train of thought. He saw a person. This person should not appear here, he had not seen him before.
Ji Fang’s eyes darkened, he really wanted to reprimand all the guards who were supposed to watch the tribesmen. The Robber Seven incident was forgivable but how could they not know when a random tribesman had slipped into the group?! But now was not a good time. Ji Fang suppressed the anger in him, his expression sour.
The guard wanted to explain but lowered his head when his eyes met Ji Fang.
Gui He let Qu Li and the rest bring these people back to their respective tribes, then check if they missed anyone. He was stunned to see Gan Qie walk out together with these people but seeing as Shao Xuan did not react, he knew Shao Xuan had sent Gan Qie inside to check on these kidnapped people.
After checking their physical conditions, and confirming that they were not in critical danger nor were there any missing tribesmen, Qu Li and the rest finally relaxed. They could now face their own tribe when they returned. This risky trip was not for nothing.
“Let’s talk about the agreement. How will we sign?” asked Shao Xuan.
Ji Fang did not expect Shao Xuan to not mention Si. When he heard Si’s report after returning in a pathetic state, he speculated that Shao Xuan must know he was working with Si. He thought Shao Xuan would question him about it, using this opportunity to demand better conditions. Yet Shao Xuan did not even mention Si and went straight to the agreement.
If that was the case, then Ji Fang would not mention Si either.
“There are many ways to sign agreements but we have two common methods. One is a spiritual agreement, another is text agreement. Both are considered fire-seed type agreements.” Ji Fang explained the difference between them.
A text agreement uses words to record the conditions of the agreement, then a totem seal is drawn on it using their fire seed energy to confirm the signer's identity.
But text agreements were not very solid because you cannot do much if a person breaks it, disregarding his own reputation. No matter what you say, they will not be hurt. On the other hand, spiritual agreements were different.”
“A spiritual agreement requires you to leave a mark on the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book.” Ji Fang looked in a direction towards the centre of the palace. It was an area with restricted entry.
“Heaven and Earth Agreement Book?”
“That’s right. It is a book connected to fire seed. You cannot change it easily. Even a lord cannot change its contents easily.” Ji Fang’s smile was replaced by a solemn expression. Everyone revered the Heaven and Earth Agreement, including himself.
“If you want a Heaven and Earth Agreement, I can bring you there to see it. If you choose a text agreement, we can start discussing its contents,” said Ji Fang.
“Heaven and Earth Agreement.” Shao Xuan looked towards the centre of the palace and enunciated slowly, “I choose a Heaven and Earth Agreement.”
Gui He and the rest did not object to this decision. They could also tell that Shao Xuan was the only one Ji Fang took seriously. Coincidentally, they also let Shao Xuan make the decision.
News of this decision quickly spread out of the palace.
“What?! The tribesmen chose Heaven and Earth Agreement?!”
“Heaven and Earth Agreement? Are you sure? Is it true?”
“I am sure, I heard it from the nobles!”
The city gossips exploded in conversation.
The Flaming Horn tribesmen chose to sign a Heaven and Earth Agreement!
Most people had not seen what the agreement looked like. Other than the few major aristocratic clans, only the chiefs of major tribes and trading parties had seen one. Although these passers-by had not seen one before, they had heard about it.
“Place your bets! Place your bets!” The gambling stall reacted the quickest, yelling and banging their drums to attract attention.
“How large of a mark will Flaming Horn leave on the book?”
“Come, come! Place your bets!”
The curious crowds were itching to place bets.
Most elderly people were familiar with bets like these but the younger ones scrambled to ask.
The gambling houses were delighted, enjoying the attention and enquiries from puzzled people. The more people came, the more they earned.
The person banging the drum stopped, then cleared his throat, about to explain to the younger ones. He was about to speak when someone wove through the crowd and slammed something hard on the table. “I bet one crystal!”
A cold glint flashed in the dealer’s eyes, annoyed at the interrupted. Before he could study the person, his eyes were attracted to the object on the table.
One crystal as thick as an arm was slammed on the table, right on the part that had ‘Flaming Horn’ written on it.
The crowd fell silent, all turning to look at this person with the giant crystal like he was an idiot.