Shao Xuan and Gan Qie ran quickly. Shao Xuan on Chacha’s back in the sky, so he was faster than people who travelled by foot. There were no mountains in their way either. Gan Qie was different from most ordinary humans and he could run for a whole day without rest and not feel tired.
It hadn’t even been three days when Shao Xuan caught up to the rest of their team.
The Flaming Horns finally felt at ease when they saw Shao Xuan come back safely.
“Is everything alright?” Guang Yi asked as his eyes scanned Shao Xuan up and down. He didn’t seem injured.
“I’m fine. I wasn’t their target,” Shao Xuan then told them briefly about their encounter with Su Le and Chu Xu.
Guang Yi looked over at Gan Qie. Even though he barely remembered faces, he remembered how Gan Qie looked like before. He had pale green skin and a bald head. He always seemed lifeless, like there was a lack of blood in his body. He could tell that Gan Qie had changed his clothes, but upon a closer look, he noticed something else. How did he gain so much white hair?
Guang Yi thought it was because he hadn’t noticed this before, so he asked the others if they noticed the changes in his hair. He received the same answer.
“How come he changed so much?! And I feel like…” Guang Yi’s eyes scanned Gan Qie up and down quickly. His intuition was unmistakable, “This person seems even more dangerous than before.”
The other Flaming Horns beside Guang Yi nodded in agreement. Even though they couldn’t tell much from his appearance, long term training and hunting in the forest made their senses keener to beastlike characteristics.
Shao Xuan told Guang Yi and the others about how Gan Qie transformed as well as the changes that had taken place where the battle happened. If anything similar happened in the future, at least they could recall this incident.
“You mean, the forest where we rested just now and the mountains around it all became a piece of deadland?” If Shao Xuan wasn’t the person who told them about this, Guang Yi would’ve thought he was tricking him.
“The fire seed’s energy is truly powerful. If you guys recall our ancestor’s power, this all makes sense,” Guang Yi recalled the power Shao Xuan summoned when they crossed the sea a long time ago. That wasn’t something any ordinary human could do.
“That’s true! Right!” the others weren’t as surprised after hearing Guang Yi’s analysis, especially those who came from the other side with Shao Xuan. No one knew better about the experience they had back then more than they did. They were the ones who were there when it happened after all.
After the others left to tend to their own duties, Guang Yi asked Shao Xuan in a low voice, “Won’t he be a threat to the Flaming Horn tribe?” After speaking, his finger pointed to where Gan Qie was but he tried not to make it seem obvious.
“His enemy is Rock Hill City, and he’s no match for them right now,” Shao Xuan said. To Gan Qie, the Rain tribe was less of an enemy compared to Rock Hill City.
“I understand,” Guang Yi didn’t need to hear the rest of Shao Xuan’s explanation to understand what he meant. Since Gan Qie’s enemy was Rock Hill City and the Flaming Horns were such a powerful group, they could work together. He didn’t want a powerful tribe like the Flaming Horns to be his enemy anyways. He needed an ally, and the Flaming Horns didn’t mind having an additional ally against Rock Hill City.
The team encountered some problems on the way but they had all been solved. Even though the Lu tribe lost some of their reared beasts on the way, the losses weren’t significant.
The reared beasts that were too weak and couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team were slaughtered and fed to the team of warriors. The cubs were locked in cages and carried by carts.
Some expedition teams wanted to rob the Lu tribesmen when they saw the number of reared beasts they had, but upon noticing the Flaming Horns, they immediately ceased to have such thoughts. As they looked closer, they noticed that even the Grand Elder was with them. It was better not to mess with them, they thought.
People who went to the trading point often had to know some important individuals there. Even if they didn’t know any other Flaming Horns, they had to remember Elder Zheng Luo who was in charge of guarding the trading point, and the Grand Elder Shao Xuan.
The Lu tribesmen had been vigilant towards these expedition teams. Whenever they saw an expedition team nearby, they would begin to worry because the members of these teams all looked strong and fierce, and even seemed like robbers. Their axes were stained with blood that might’ve belonged to a beast or human. They carried beast hides and other important goods in their wagons.
“They came from the trading point,” Guang Yi said after scanning their wagons. He couldn’t remember people, but he could remember the beast hides and beast bones as well as other goods they sold in the trading point. Even though most of these goods were covered, some parts that were exposed easily gave it away.
Shao Xuan looked towards the expedition team. His eyes were affixed on their leader. He remembered that person. Right at this moment, that person waved at Shao Xuan. Shao Xuan also nodded in acknowledgement. This was a greeting between tribesmen.
“He recognised me!” the leader of the group had clammy palms when Shao Xuan smiled at him. If they really decided on making a move on these people, they had to get rid of this Grand Elder too. Or else they would not be able to live in peace and would never be allowed to enter the trading point ever again. They would have to remain in their tribe and hide from the Flaming Horns who will be chasing after them.
After some thought, the leader of the group forced a weak smile and then turned to his team who was still drooling over the Lu tribe’s reared beasts, “What are you guys looking at? Hurry and move!”
Thus, the Lu tribesmen watched as the expedition team turned away and left unwillingly, turning their heads to look back after taking a few steps. It seemed as if those people were ready to come over to rob them any moment, but somehow they held back the urge and walked away.
The Lu tribesmen looked toward the Flaming Horns. They watched as the expedition teams left. Bai Xing felt fortunate that he followed the Flaming Horns. This saved them from a lot of trouble.
When the team finally saw a stone sign marked with the Flaming Horn totem, the Lu tribesmen were the most excited amongst the group.
This sign told them the direction to the trading point. It meant that if anyone walked in that direction, they would arrive at the Flaming River trading point.
“We’re finally here!” A migration didn’t just tire them physically. They were emotionally and mentally burdened as well. They had just merged their fire seed not long ago, so they felt an even stronger sense of fear and uncertainty.
The Lu tribesmen didn’t need to go to the trading point. Their destination was somewhere else upstream.
”Since we’re already here, we should part ways,” Shao Xuan decided to head to the trading point with the rest of the Flaming Horn team. They were going to different places after all.
”Wait!” Bai Xing called out to Shao Xuan. He paced over hurriedly with the worry that they might leave if he didn’t rush over.
Seeing the Flaming Horns’ confused faces, Bai Xing smiled awkwardly, “Our Flaming Horn brothers, will you be so nice to lead us to our destination? We’ll pay you back in a fine sum!”
Shao Xuan knew that they were afraid of other expedition teams robbing them. There were too many expedition teams nearby, so it made sense that Bai Xing was so worried.
”Sure,” Shao Xuan looked at the Flaming Horn team. None of them looked unwilling. Since it wasn’t far and many of them were also interested in which plot of land the Lu tribesmen chose to settle on, they thought that it would be good if they went there first. They had to pass by in the future anyways.
Thus, Shao Xuan and the others escorted the Lu tribe to their final destination before they headed back to the trading point.
“More people are in the trading point now,” Shao Xuan remarked upon noticing the changes.
They didn’t come from the other side. Some of them had weird totemic signs that he had never seen before. Some of these people seemed like they were here for the first time. They beheld everything with curious eyes and remained vigilant towards everyone around them.
Gan Qie left without a word to the secret chamber underground to think about his life. Shao Xuan went to look for Zheng Luo. He wanted to understand the current situation at the trading point. These tribesmen who had come over to the trading point lived near the shores of the Flaming River, just a little farther away from the Flaming Horns. They either lived in places that were harder to find or the Flaming Horns had never noticed them before.
“What are they here for?” Shao Xuan asked.
“They said that they want to know how to merge their fire seed. Many of them met with the chief already. You can head back to headquarters and see for yourself. Gui He probably has a lot of questions for you,” Zheng Luo said.
Since this was the case, Shao Xuan didn’t stay in the trading point too long. He left for headquarters immediately.
When Shao Xuan arrived, Gui He was reading a beast hide scroll with a bitter expression. That was the map Shao Xuan had drawn before.
“Ah Xuan! You’re finally back!” Gui He waved as he saw Shao Xuan. “There’s something we need to discuss.”
Shao Xuan had never seen Gui He so perplexed before. It didn’t seem like something dangerous was about to happen. Rather, it was most likely something else.
“What’s there to discuss?” Shao Xuan asked as he looked at the map.
“Many tribes want to live under our protection.”
“That’s a good thing.”
“I know, but there are just some problems we need to solve,” Gui He told Shao Xuan about these problems.
Ever since the Flaming Horns named this river the Flaming River, many tribes on this continent also began to name the rivers, lakes, and mountains around them. It was like they were naming it for the sake of marking their own territory. It also gave them a sense of pride.
Even though most tribes that lived by the Flaming River were small tribes, they had their ambitions too. As the Flaming River’s name spread far and wide, the Flaming Horn tribe’s power and influence also grew. These small tribes also began to name natural landmarks after their own tribe.
The Flaming Horns used their power to force everyone to accept the Flaming River’s name. Those who were unhappy about this or weren’t willing to accept this name had to accept it because the Flaming Horns were too powerful.
However, in other places, tribes began to quarrel over naming natural landmarks. They were all equally strong in power and if they fought over such matters, both sides would only suffer huge losses, so at the end, they decided to ask the Flaming Horns to help them solve this problem. After all, in the Flaming River region, if the Flaming Horns claimed to be second in rank, no other tribe would dare to claim first place.
“I don’t think naming is the main predicament we’re facing. What I’m most frustrated about is how we divide their territory,” Gui He pointed to the locations he marked out on the map as well as the natural borders in the region such as rivers, mountains, and lakes.
Gui He was farsighted and he didn’t want to just solve the naming problem. He wanted to do more, like categorising the tribes.
After listening to Gui He’s thoughts, Shao Xuan nodded, “I understand what you mean now.”
“You really do? Then what do you think?” Gui He asked expectantly.
“Do you have some new beast hides to write on?”
Gui He immediately brought over some beast hides, ink, and brushes.
Shao Xuan drew lines on this beast hide and compared it with the map in Gui He’s hands. The lines that he drew were the streams in the region. The thickest line on the map was the Flaming River and the others were all tributaries that flowed into it.
“Most of these tribes live near water,” Shao Xuan pointed to the lines he drew. He used red ink to mark out the Flaming River and blue to mark out the tributaries. “We can call this entire area the Flaming River Basin.”
Gui He’s eyes glinted when he heard the four words. What Shao Xuan said next was exactly what Gui He wanted to find out.
“As for the problem you mentioned, we can use these tributaries to divide the territories.”