After the signing, when Shao Xuan exited the yard, the rest of the people remained very silent, especially the few aristocratic patriarchs. They looked at him with strange and complicated expressions.
However, Ji Fang remained as usual, casually chatting away with Shao Xuan about past events. He did not act any differently.
Shao Xuan heard about the large-scale fight on King City’s busiest street after he exited. But his side were not the ones who attacked first. After the story was straightened out, the betting house and Changle people were in the wrong.
Ji Fang did not hesitate in dealing with the matter, first discussing with Shao Xuan about possible solutions. He did not act arrogantly.
However, Gui He and the rest knew that if Flaming Horn were weak and they did not have a person like Shao Xuan with them, King City would not be this polite. King City must be quite wary of them now after what happened during the agreement signing.
Even if they did not know what the symbol as tall as the mountain meant, they could guess based on Ji Fang and the patriarchs’ expressions. Shao Xuanw as the key reason for the change in attitude!
Flaming Horn’s Grand Elder was no ordinary man. They were grateful that he was a Flaming Horn. If he wasn’t, and belonged to another tribe, the Flaming Horns might not be where they were now.
The commotion at the street ended with the tribesmen returning to their accommodations with their stuff while the betting house had to pay for all the damage caused.
Many people were shocked at how easily the Ji clan let the tribesmen off the hook. Many things did not go your way here just because you were right. However, all the aristocrats seemed to agree with this decision. Those who loved to analyse situations started to mull over the possibilities.
The most active people were the businessmen.
The agreement between King City and Flaming Horn was an equal one, both parties could visit each other to trade. The tribes had lots of gemstones but lacked metal so there was an opportunity there. All the businessmen had to do was think about it before they started shaking.
Before the Black Bears could do it, many trading parties fought to visit the Flaming Horns first.
Within the palace, Shao Xuan and Ji Fang talked alone after the signing. This time, Ji Fang brought up Si, unprompted.
“Si wants to meet you in the palace.” Ji Fang observed Shao Xuan’s reaction. He thought Shao Xuan would rage but things did not go as he expected.
“Alright.” Shao Xuan’s tone did not change, his face calm as if not surprised that Ji Fang would mention Si.
Ji Fang was confused but it did not matter as long as his objectives were met. He arranged a place for Shao Xuan and Si to meet in private. Si was the head of the largest slave-trading organisation so he could not appear in the palace. Very few people knew Ji Fang was actually working with Si. Other than a few trusted people, before Ji Fang came to rule, even Ji Shou did not know of their cooperation. Si only started to frequent the palace after Ji Fang came to the throne and it was because of the incident with Flaming Horn that more people knew of their cooperation.
Si looked more humble this time, apologetic about attacking the Flaming Horn. Shao Xuan treated it as utter nonsense. He wasn’t apologetic, he was just regretful!
But it must be difficult for Si to act this humble.
“Just tell me why you’re here,” said Shao Xuan.
All the apologies that Si prepared for Shao Xuan were useless now. But getting straight to the point would definitely save time.
Si’s objective was simple- he wanted Shao Xuan to help find the Chief’s Bone Lock. He had used many tactics to get information about Robber Seven from other ‘Robbers’ but to no avail. That was because the Robbers rarely told other people of their whereabouts, even leaving out information when they worked together. This was a habit of theirs.
Si had not placed much hope on this information anyway. While he did not get information on Robber Seven’s whereabouts, he dug up some dirt on Robber Seven’s history. For example, he found that Robber Seven had been caught by the Flaming Horns more than once- more specifically, Robber Seven had been defeated by Shao Xuan more than once.
That was why Si came to look for Shao Xuan because other people were not reliable enough. Robber Seven was too slippery. Even the top three Robbers might not catch him. Although Robber Seven was not ranked very high, he was difficult to find, catch and kill.
“Bi is not the only slave-trading organisation here. Us not kidnapping Flaming River tribesmen does not mean other organisations would not. However, if you can help me find the Chief’s Bone Lock, I have my ways to make them avoid the entire Flaming River Alliance’s territory,” said Si.
“We can do that ourselves,” said Shao Xuan.
“But you would still get yourselves into trouble. I’m sure Flaming Horn does not want to see any of its tribesmen go missing in the next few years, or even decades,” advised Si.
If Si could help them solve this problem, it would indeed save them time and effort, which were what Flaming Horn lacked. Everyone knew the agreement with King City was just temporary. An inevitable conflict would happen once the agreement expired. There were many variables here, who could predict the future that accurately? Tiny changes could bring hugely different results.
The safest route was to rely on themselves to solve the problem. That way they could show off their strength and it would be easier to make future negotiations. However, sending out people to solve their problems will slow down progress on the Flaming River. With Si’s promise, they could solve most of their problems and it would be worth it.
Shao Xuan did not answer immediately. After a long pause, he said, “Deal.”
Si heaved a sigh of relief now that Shao Xuan agreed to help. At least there was a high chance of getting the Chief’s Bone Lock back.
Before he left, he stopped at the entrance and turned to ask, “I heard you’re proficient in the Yi family’s fortune reading techniques. Did you already know that I would ask you about the Chief’s Bone Lock?”
“What do you think?”
“I think so.” Those freaking Flaming Horns! Si cursed in his heart as he left without looking at Shao Xuan. This is ridiculous! He had to endure his Xi being broken, then robbed of his Chief’s Bone Lock, then people tried to kill him, and now he had to humble himself down to beg for help.
He had to admit defeat here. In the future, he must be more careful when dealing with the Flaming Horns.
The feast at the palace that night was a hearty one. Ji Fang did not mention the sparring offer again but Shao Xuan was not interested anyway. He seemed to be deep in thought.
Shao Xuan was very distracted, like his mind was somewhere else. Other people noticed too but no one talked to him. Most King City folk wanted the Flaming Horns to leave as soon as possible after the strange signing phenomenon. They were curious but also knew that they would not get answers. Some people tried asking at the beginning of the feast but Shao Xuan did not answer them and the Flaming Horns also kept their lips sealed. Gui He and the rest did not know much about the Founder Shaman Seal but they would never reveal even a little information.
Shao Xuan also saw Ji Ju at the feast. He had aged a lot since the last time they met. This should not have happened because the Ji family had long lifespans, plus Ji Ju had herbal crops and top-quality grains in his fields. He should not age this quickly.
But it was understandable based on the events during these past few years. He had not had a good time recently, with the large-scale deaths from the natural disaster, Yi Xiang’s revenge, the Yi family’s destabilisation etc all took a toll on him. Especially the first one, for he cared about his crops very much. He had suffered huge losses during the disaster, most of the crops he spent a lot of time on, and had high hopes for, all died in the end. Recuperation after the disaster took a lot of effort. He had to personally work and supervise at the fields.
Ji Ju was the only reason why Flaming Horn tribe did not hate the Ji clan. All their best crops, excluding the Thousand Grain Gold, were mostly gifted to them by Ji Ju.
Ji Ju also felt emotional when he saw Shao Xuan.
Years ago when the former lord decided to hunt down the Flaming Horns, Ji Ju had rushed to the palace and raged. It was too bad that he had spent too much time away from politics and held no influence when he needed it. Ji Ju could not change a decision made by all six clans unanimously.
In the end, the person who usurped the throne was a person from his own clan. Ji Fang taking the throne was a good thing, at least he agreed with Ji Fang signing a peace deal with the Flaming Horns. No matter what they said about the tribesmen, he had his own judgements about them.
A tribe that can produce good grains is a tribe worth being friends with- that was his opinion.
He was happy to see Shao Xuan again, even inviting him over to his field for a chat after the feast.
Shao Xuan did not refuse. It was late out, if Ji Ju wanted him on the field, there must be something important.
Sending Gui He and the rest to check on the tribe, Shao Xuan followed Ji Ju out of the city to his fields. Gui He and the rest headed back to the Flaming Horn accommodations. Although they received news that all was well, as the chief, Gui He was still worried. This was King City, he must personally check on his men to be safe. Also, Shao Xuan had secretly told him before he left that things did not seem good.
When he followed Ji Ju to the field, Ji Ju started bombarding him with questions, if his seeds germinated successfully and growing well. Knowing that the seedlings were growing well, and their crop fields were expanding, and the Thousand Grain Gold plants were under control, Ji Ju gave him a sincere smile.
He gave Shao Xuan more seeds, saying that they were hybrid crops, then told him what to take note of when planting them. After Shao Xuan recorded them down, Ji Ju paused, then said, “Actually, I brought you here, also because of another thing. An old friend wants to see you but he could not leave his room.”