Yi Ce of Flaming River (2)
Yi Ce had known since young that he was not a Flaming Horn but from the King City Yi family on the other side of the ocean, like Yi Si.
The Flaming Horns did not hide this from him, including what happened to his father, Shao Xuan did not hide from him.
The Flaming Horns treated him well during his childhood along the Flaming River. Although Shoa Xuan did not officially take him in as a disciple, Yi Ce saw Shao Xuan as his master.
After a short rest, the Longboat fleet set off again.
With Shao Xuan’s request, the Longboat tribe cared well for this special guest.
The fleet would travel along the river, it would be a few days before they arrived at the river mouth.
That night, the fleet travelled along with lighted torches. From above, they looked like a trail of fire moving down the river.
Every tribe living along the river was familiar with this trail of fire, it was an iconic look.
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The wind was strong today, roaring like a beast. The sailors drank self-made ale and sang at the top of their lungs, their tanned faces burning red.
Just like how the Flaming Horn hunters sang their hunting songs, the Longboats sang too, to celebrate their voyage.
However, in contrast to the slightly sad lyrics in the hunting song, their sailing song was motivating, hot-blooded and passionate, making the sailors emotional every time. They enjoyed life on the boat, the carefree feeling being out at sea riding the waves.
Beneath the fire torches, there were noisy sailors clinking cups as well as warriors quietly wiping their knives.
There was an old warrior from an unknown tribe near Yi Ce, singing a song with a low voice with a simple musical instrument made from animal bones, skin and tendons.
When they finally arrived at the river mouth, the tribesmen who were seeing the ocean for the first time shouted with joy.
At the river mouth, more Longboats were waiting. When both fleets gathered, they readjusted themselves then set out on their true voyage.
Life at sea was not comfortable for many people, even frequent traders sometimes could not get used to it.
The Black Bears told Yi Ce that they would shrink every time they crossed the ocean, turning from huge, muscular, fat bears into thin bears. Of course, the fatigue was secondary to the other threats and uncertainties of being at sea. Every voyage was a gamble on their own lives. However, their large profits made them fully willing to torture themselves like this.
Yi Ce only smiled when he listened to these experienced traders talk.
That morning, Yi Ce’s eyes sprung open. He looked out at sea, his brows furrowed, his fingers moving.
When his slaves saw this, they started looking around cautiously.
The half-beast, Grasshopper, was a short but bright slave. Now, even his spikes were standing tall on his back. Not just him, the other half-beast slaves had the same response.
Very soon, the Longboats also noticed something as wrong. Being tribesmen who lived at sea, they were more sensitive to threats than others.
The horn sounded.
“A sea beast!!”
“Trading boats group to the centre, war boats remain on the outer ring!”
“Prepare the explosives! Archers, ready!”
Although anxious, the Longboats reacted in an orderly manner. They looked very experienced.
The traders who frequented both landmasses bragged to other people, “We often encounter giant sea beasts out at sea but sometimes, if the beasts are very curious, they would be difficult to deal with. There was one time we saw a sea beast with teeth this———big! But I sliced a huge chunk of meat from it, tsk tsk… it tasted good! The worst is when we meet a herd of sea beasts! That could mean several boats capsizing…”
Before he could finish, a Longboat tribesman yelled, “There’s a herd of them!”
The trader cursed and stopped bragging, his expression turning sour. The other traders entered their cabins while he found a solid spot to hold on to.
When a fast-moving boat had to make a sharp turn or collided with a sea beast, anyone who did not grab something could be flung out. And under such emergencies, there was no time to save these people either. If you fell into the water, that meant you would end up in a fish’s stomach. That would be a horrible death.
“Master, get into the cabin quickly!” cried Grasshopper anxiously.
Yi Ce looked at the sea beast breaking out of the surface, his eyebrows relaxing. “It’s fine.”
He did not enter his cabin, instead, Yi Ce walked up to a Longboat warrior.
The warrior was surprised to see Yi Ce but also remembered the chief’s reminders that this was a guest specifically sent by the Flaming Horn Grand Elder so he spoke gently, “There is a herd of sea beasts and they’re curious so they might chase our fleet for a while. Just to be safe, please enter your assigned cabin immediately. We will save you in the event of an emergency.”
“Thank you but please let Chief Mu Fa know that I have a way to make the sea beasts avoid our fleet,” said Yi Ce.
The Longboat tribesman was stunned, his first instinct was disbelief because he felt like this young man was just bragging. However, since he was an important person, he still passed the message to Mu Fa anyway.
Very soon, Mu Fa came over. He was the leader of the entire fleet, if there was a way to avoid a brutal fight between themselves and the beasts, it would obviously be in his favour.
“You really can make the herd give up on our fleet?” asked Mu Fa in a low voice.
“I can’t say they’ll give up chasing us immediately but they’ll stay far from us,” said Yi Ce.
Mu Fa did not understand. Wasn’t that the same thing?
“Chief, the beasts are approaching! They’re swimming faster!” cried another warrior.
The nearer they got to the ships, the more excited the sea beasts became, as if they found a new toy.
Yi Ce took off the animal skin cloak he wore, then instructed his slave to take out four jade stones as large as an infant’s fist from a pouch, as well as four pieces of fire crystals as large as a pinky finger’s fingernail. He looked up at the watch post at the top of the mast and turned to the mighty half-beast slave Grey Horse. “Take me there.”
When Mu Fa saw that Yi Ce’s target was the watch post on top of the tall pole, he was about to ask if they needed help when Yi Ce leapt unto the half-beast’s palm. Then, the slave lifted his arm up and launched Yi Ce upwards.
He just launched Yi Ce…
The Longboat tribesmen: “…”
Indeed, he was raised in Flaming Horn. He was as direct and rough as those Flaming Horns.
“Chief, are we really going to trust him? Although he has Yi blood, he lived in Flaming Horn and the Yi family has already fallen,” whispered a Longboat warrior to Mu Fa.
“Have you forgotten? He is a disciple that Shao Xuan of Flaming Horn trained. Although they never announced it publicly, based on what I know, he has been learning from Shao Xuan. I would like to see what he has learned!”
When Shao Xuan of Flaming Horn was mentioned, the Longboat tribesmen were shocked.
That was the only person King City and Rock Hill did not dare offend!
With Shao Xuan around, King City would never dare declare war against the tribes. King City and Rock Hill would never touch the Flaming River region.
A person he trained should not be too bad. This was what they thought.
However, Mu Fa did not place all his hopes on Yi Ce. His men were all prepared to begin their contingency plans if Yi Ce failed.
At this moment, Yi Ce on the watchpost threw the four jadestones and fire crystals in eight directions.
Although they had all been flicked outwards one by one, as if through delicate calculations, all eight objects touched the water surface at the same time!
When all eight objects touched the water, he raised both arms.
A gust of powerful, strange force erupted.
An arc that burned with orange-red and white flames appeared mid-air before Yi Ce!
IN front of the arc of flames was a ball of fire, white at the bottom and orange-red towards the top, each colour held equal portions. Behind him, three long shadows formed.
The flames and three shadows coincidentally formed the Yi family totem!
The moment the totem appeared, a powerful ripple of energy radiated in all directions like crashing waves, enough to startle everyone. It was as if an unstoppable force was spreading in all directions, causing their blood to freeze!
As the flame danced, the fireball in front became brighter than the sun.
The large commotion naturally attracted the attention of the people in the fleet. Those in the cabin peeked out in surprise after the strong energy surge. When they looked up, they were so surprised their eyeballs almost fell out.
They saw a giant totem radiating an aura that seemed to cover every inch of the skies, covering the entire fleet.
The Yi family totem!”
“The Yi totem! No, the right term is the Yi clan sigil! There’s a Yi clan member on board?” The King City aristocrats called it a sigil instead of a totem.
“Didn’t they say the Yi family had collapsed? Why did that feel so powerful?”
Those who often visited King City knew that the current Yi leaders were what used to be the side branch families instead of the main lineage. They heard that the main lineage had either died or scattered off. The elites of their family had suffered huge losses due to some incident, and now many were no longer around. The ones leading the clan in King City were side branch members, even the divination skills they knew were not the true arts.
Knot divination, shell and bone readings used to be the three strongest arts of the Yi family but now they were on the path to extinction. Now, they saw the Yi family using coins and jade stones but rarely saw these ancient techniques used.
Traditionally, the leader of the Yi clan, also the most powerful person in the clan, must master at least one of the three ancient arts. In reality, the current leader was probably not even good at one. If he knew it, he probably was not skilled either.
The tradition was gone.
To many people, the Yi family was on the path to extinction.
However, they never expected to see something so strange on this voyage.
“He’s from the Yi family, that’s right!”
“This is my first time seeing such a gigantic Yi totem!”
“Such a large totem… Which Yi family member is he?” gasped an old warrior.
As the orange-red flames curled, the strange energy field covered the entire region. IN the blink of an eye, everything in their field of vision distorted and rippled. Most people thought their eyes were failing them.
Mu Fa’s eyebrows were raised, his veins bulging beneath the skin.
The power, the gigantic totem… He was indeed Shao Xuan’s disciple!
ESpecially the Black Bears who were most familiar with King City and had met many Yi members- they used to find the Yi clan mysteriously powerful before the incident. Now, this young man made them feel the same but this person was even more mysterious and powerful. Their hairs stood on ends the moment the giant totem appeared, goosebumps raising inexplicably. This was all so strange!
However, what shocked the entire fleet was that the herd of beasts heading towards them suddenly turned around!
“Why did the beasts change direction?”
“Are they afraid of the Yi totem?”
“Doesn’t seem like it.”
“Why does it feel like the herd is suddenly pursuing another target?”
Mu Fa was still gawking at the beasts who changed directions when he heard Yi Ce yell, “Take this opportunity to leave! Carry on along our usual route!”
Mu Fa came to his senses. There was no time to wonder, he must lead his fleet away safely.
The fleet sped ahead along their usual route. Indeed, the beasts never returned, speeding in another direction as if intending to get closer, though they would suddenly fall back, then chase again, then fall back until they lost interest and left.
Throughout this process, the giant Yi totem remained hanging over the fleet like a protective umbrella covering the fleet.
When all was safe, the totem disappeared and the strange energy ripples were gone instantly. Yi Ce came down from the watch post.
Mu Fa was very puzzled. “What did you use? Was that divination?”
“No, that’s not divination, it’s an array,” said Yi Ce.
“What is an array? Did Shao Xuan teach you that too?”
“Why did the beasts suddenly change direction?”
“Because in their eyes, they are indeed heading towards the fleet but in reality, they are skewed. They don’t know that so they will only feel like they cannot catch up. Right up until they get bored and give up on the fleet.”
Mu Fa found this very interesting. The fleet was here, why would the sea beasts swim in the wrong direction? Was there something wrong with their eyes?
Although he did not completely understand, he respected Yi Ce even more. It was also more and more difficult to judge how powerful Shao Xuan of Flaming Horn truly was.
When Yi Ce learned about arrays, he had also been in awe of the universe.
Shao Xuan had found several natural arrays when he crossed that edgeless large river.
A long time ago, the river that isolated the Flaming Horn tribe from the rest of the world was not actually as vast or ‘edgeless’ as they seemed to the naked eye. It was just a gigantic natural array, making the journey that should take two days much longer.
There were also killing arrays that could make gigantic sea beasts disintegrate into blood and dust.
Those natural arrays contained immense power that humans cannot harvest. However, utilising just a small chip off this block could unleash immense power.
Like how Yi Ce’s technique was enough to shock the entire fleet.
Now that the threat had passed, Mu Fa continued his duties as captain while Yi Ce walked to the edge of the boat. Since he produced the totem, there seemed to be a voice coming from deep in the ocean, calling again and again: come, I have something for you.
But no one else heard the voice.
Yi Ce walked to the edge and looked down. The surface was disturbed by the fleet.
Suddenly, Yi Ce’s pupils constricted.
A necklace of wooden ornaments floated on the surface.
Based on the fleet’s speed, it should be left far behind very quickly but this necklace seemed to also be moving, following the ship.
Yi Ce asked for a tool to fish the necklace out of the water.
This necklace was made of different wooden pieces shaved into different shapes. Each ornament was as large as a fingernail with a hole drilled through it and strung together with straw rope. There were carvings on each piece.
Yi Ce held the necklace in his hand, his fingers naturally curling around it while his thumb placed itself subconsciously on one of the beads, then pushed the bead. Yi Ce felt an energy ripple that only appeared during divination!
Is this a… divination tool?
Which Yi ancestor left this behind? How long had it been soaking in the sea? It was not damaged at all.
He spent the rest of the voyage studying the wooden necklace, usually leaving it wound around his wrist. He grew more confident that it originally belonged to a very powerful Yi family member, this member’s divination skills must be immense!
Every bead and its carvings contained the essence of divination. This necklace was the product of everything the ancestor learned in his life!
But where was the owner of this necklace? Was it a gift for him? Why? Yi Ce did not understand, his readings gave no answers either.
The voice did not appear anymore. Even when they met another small sea beast group again and he asked to help, and produced the second totem once again, he did not hear the voice again. Like it had disappeared forever.
Many days passed and the fleet finally arrived at the shores.
The passengers cheered, for they had arrived safely. The traders and adventurers got off the boats, then left to wherever they had to go.
Refusing the Longboat tribesmen’s offer as escorts, Yi Ce and his eight slaves walked towards King City.
King City, I have returned.