The tribesmen who crowded around the betting table all placed bets using their own gemstones. The dealer advised those who did not have gemstones to bet using their knives, spears, hammers or other weapons but were declined.
A tribesman can live without gemstones but never without a weapon. If there was a battle, how else would they fight? With gemstones?
Bo Yi thought it was unfortunate because he heard rumours that the Flaming Horns owned many good quality weapons. He thought he could also cheat them of their weapons but these tribesmen seemed vigilant and stubborn. No matter how he enticed them, they would not give up their weapons.
Despite his reservations, when he looked at the pile of gemstones on the table, he got excited again. He was rich! Rich! It was a good day!
As the number of participants increased, Bo Yi quickly formulated a plan to profit most.
Those who betted on Flaming Horn surpassing all six King City clans would get a five-fold reward. All other six options received either double or triple reward. This betting house only worked with integers, i.e. two or three-fold, not one-point-something.
When this reward system was announced, the number of people placing bets increased. Some experienced gamblers finally placed their bets too. They were initially worried about being cheated but quickly relaxed after hearing the announcement. However, most people chose to bet on a ranking behind the last few. Very few people placed their bets in front of the Ji and Yi family. This meant King City’s people did not think the Flaming Horns were very strong.
Although the Flaming Horn did slap the Lu patriarch out of the city, that did not prove anything. King City’s Ji and Yi family took a special position in their hearts.
“Only a five-fold reward? I thought it would be at least ten or a hundred,” someone muttered.
This was not the only person to think such a thing- Bo Yi also wanted to offer this rate but quickly dismissed the thought.
First, these tribesmen were from the other side of the ocean and he did not know what King City’s aristocrats thought of the tribesmen. He did not want to cheat them this blatantly by offering a ten or hundredfold reward. It might attract more people and he could earn more but this would be too obvious. He heard these tribesmen had bad tempers and he did not want to cause trouble. If the tribesmen started to fight, the betting house would only suffer losses. Fivefold was just nice, it did not sound too far off from the other bets.
Why were there so many betting houses, yet House of Fortune was the only one here? First, they were established early and genuinely good at business; second, they knew how to read the room, earning just enough from the aristocrats.
Also, they must not humiliate the tribesmen too much. This way, the tribesmen would return and the betting house would earn more- this was what Bo Yi thought.
The other staff members did not mind this ratio. It did not matter how much the reward would be, those treasures were already theirs.
Within the palace.
Ji Fang led Shao Xuan to the area with the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book. Shao Xuan studied Ji Fang’s sword and found that while it was still in its sheath, it radiated a suppressed chill. Ji Fang must have used blood to forge it, then usurped the throne using this very sword.
Seeing that Shao Xuan was interested in his sword, Ji Fang smiled. “Shall we spar after signing the agreement?”
“Alright,” said Shao Xuan.
At this moment, a Flaming Horn warrior entered. He was initially waiting outside but hurried into the palace due to news from the betting house. He reported the situation to Shao Xuan.
“Grand Elder, everyone is talking about this outside.” The warrior was extremely displeased because those people spoke as if they looked down on Flaming Horn. The city folk saw them as stupid rich people.
Shao Xuan thought for a moment but did not answer his concerns, instead he said, “Bring Gan Qie with you when you leave the palace, he doesn’t want to stay inside.”
Gan Qie was not with Shao Xuan when they pursued Si because Shao Xuan had sent him to check on the captured people. After Gan Qie rejoined the group, he said the palace contained a fire seed aura he did not like and wanted to leave because of this discomfort.
When the warrior left, Ji Fang led Shao Xuan and a few others to the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book. He knew about the betting house too but chose to ignore it.
“It’s right ahead.” Ji Fang slowed down his footsteps, his expression growing solemn.
Gui He and Ao also sensed the strong fire seed aura here. They noticed it when they entered the palace but it was much stronger here. There was no repulsion between their different fire seeds, instead the fire seed aura here seemed to be suppressed to remain in a very small area as if it was deep in slumber.
“There’s a fire seed inside?” Gui He looked over in confusion. He could not look inside due to the tall yard walls.
The people here had long forgone their tribal lifestyles, the tribesmen had merged with their fire seeds a very long time ago. So what was this fire seed aura? That must be from a primitive fire seed! But why was it not repelling them?
Ji Fang smiled mysteriously and did not explain. “You’ll know when you enter.”
The place was heavily guarded and Ji Fang did not plan to bring many people inside. Only Shao Xuan, Gui He, Ao and Ta entered. He wanted to sign an agreement with Flaming Horn and this was irrelevant to the other tribes, even if they were part of the Flaming River Alliance.
Ji Fang only cared about the Flaming Horns- more specifically, there was only one person he was wary of- Shao Xuan.
A heavy metal and stone door was pushed open. Ji Fang entered first. After the group studied their surroundings, they stepped inside.
Other than Ji Fang, there were five other people from the five other clans. The Yi family was not represented by Yi Tuan but another elder whom Shao Xuan had not met. He did not partake in the battle against Yi Xiang.
This elder was very different from other arrogant, snobbish Yi members. This elder kept a humble demeanour. Compared to the four other clan representatives, he maintained a low profile. When Shao Xuan looked over, the elder had his head lowered, his eyelids hung down. He did not meet Shao Xuan’s eyes.
After giving the elder a lingering look, Shao Xuan finally studied the rock mountain in the centre of the yard.
It was a huge yard with many flowers and various plants around, a very well-maintained garden indeed. The rock mountain in the centre seemed to be a mountain replica meant as a landscaping ornament. However, no one who entered would ignore it because it radiated a powerful fire seed aura.
This was the main character of the yard! It contained huge power within!
After stepping into the yard, the fire seed aura intensified. Even the least sensitive person would feel it. However, just as Gui He and the rest noticed, this aura seemed to be contained within an area, its influence weak beyond this boundary. This aura might not even be sensed in certain parts of the palace, let alone outside. That was why they did not know of this when they entered the city- the fire seed could not be felt at all.
Shao Xuan looked at the mountain. It was a miniature replica of a mountain similar to the steep mountain walls he saw in the forest.
This mountain was twenty metres tall, a hundred metres long in a “一” shape. It was a steep cliff, more like a chunk of wall.
Shao Xuan saw totems imprinted on the cliff wall. Other than the Ji family, there were sigils of the other five clans, as well as other groups. Shao Xuan saw the Black Bear Trading Party’s symbol too. These were all parties who had ever signed agreements with the Ji family.
The totems varied in sizes and colour. The lighter the colour, the older the mark was. The Black Bear symbol had faded, their previous chief had made this agreement with the Ji family some time ago.
This was reasonable. The Ji family would never let a trading party who had not signed an agreement with them grow so large in King City.
Shao Xuan observed the totem sizes. The aristocratic clans had larger sigils, especially the Ji and Yi totems that were obviously larger than the rest. Both sigils did not differ much in size, the Ji family sigil was only slightly larger than the Yi family.
“So… this is the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book?” Gui He asked hesitantly.
“You’re right, this is it!” Ji Fang stood before the mountain, feeling a surge of pride as he looked at the various totems on the wall.
King City was built here for a reason.
In the beginning, the Ji ancestors wanted the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book as their last resort if their family ever met an undefeatable enemy, man or beast. They could borrow its powers to fight for their survival!
How did the Ji family beat the other clans to become ruler of the city? First, they were capable. Second, the Ji clan was the only clan to be recognised by this mountain! The Yi family had always thought they had the most powerful fire seed but they could never do it!
According to the Ji ancestral records, the mountain was awakened using only the Ji ancestor’s blood!
This mountain only recognised Ji family members, specifically the strongest members fit to be king! It did not recognise weaklings- a secret reason why Ji Fang could get the throne was that he was acknowledged by this mountain!
People who did not have strong Ji blood could not leave a mark on this mountain.
Yes, any mark!
Even a sharp sword made by the Gongjia Mountain could not. Even if it did, the mark would disappear very soon as if the mountain could wipe it off on its own. Just as Ji Fang said, once an agreement was signed on the Heaven and Earth Agreement Book, it would never change.
Gui He and the few looked up at the mountain wall carved with all sorts of totems. Within this mountain was a primitive fire seed that did not belong to any tribe, person or beast!
They thought the book would be made of animal skin, fabric or some plant-- a material similar to what they used to make scrolls. They did not expect the book to be a whole mountain!
This mountain contained a primitive fire seed of its own. From a certain perspective, one could even say that this mountain was ‘alive’.