Chief of the Flame Tribe
Rody and Camus chatted for the whole morning. After that, Camus went back to the barracks outside the city. Before leaving, Camus mentioned about the management of those mountain soldiers. Rody thought for a moment and then he replied, “Just watch them for now. As you have said. There would be no benefit in killing more people.”
Camus lightly asked, “Is that so? However, you had a murderous glint in your eyes last night.” Having said that, Camus left.
Rody sat down for a moment. He felt stirred by Camus’ final words. He could not help but think. This Camus looks fierce and boorish but his heart is bigger and he is wiser.
After that, Rody could not help but smile. Camus is a famous general of the Empire in this generation. He is second only to the late Duke of the Tulip Family. Naturally, he is very formidable.
He thought to himself for a moment and dispatched someone to go and summon Xier’s Governor-General. That Governor-General looked anxious and afraid. He did not dare to look into Rody’s eyes. Rody sighed as he knew the reason was that the Governor-General was afraid of him. The Governor-General was afraid that Rody may pursue matters related to his nephew. Although Rody was disgusted, he still managed to show a gentle expression and say a few comforting words. Rody did not say anything about the negotiations. Instead, Rody talked about dispatching a person to meet the leader of the mountain tribes to persuade the tribes to pledge allegiance to the Empire as an attempt at a peaceful solution.
As he talked, Rody looked directly at the Governor-General. This caused the Governor-General to sweat profusely due to fear. With a sullen expression, he claimed that he was physically weak and might not be able to adapt to the atmosphere of the mountains. The Governor-General also said that he was busy and might not be able to find the time to travel into the mountains.
Rody gave a cold smile and said, “This matter does not need the Governor-General to be present. After all, I am His Majesty’s special envoy. For matters related to appeasement, I should be the one going to show our sincerity.”
That Governor-General felt greatly relieved and pretended to discourage Rody from going. He said that the people of the mountains were cruel and malicious. He said that the Duke’s health is priceless and should not be risked. The Governor-General carried on and on until Rody felt tired listening. Rody then said, “It is either you or me.” That frightened the Governor-General to the point where he did not dare to dissuade Rody any longer. Finally, the Governor-General wished Rody success and said, “The Duke’s reputation has spread far and wide. I am sure that those barbarians will be cautious and pledge allegiance to you.” After saying that, the Governor-General quickly left.
After more than ten days of rest, the situation at the barracks outside the city was finally stabilized. The mountain soldiers no longer caused trouble. Camus contacted Wuya’s men and then Wuya dispatched one of the leaders of the Flame Tribe to the Purple Leaf City to meet Camus. Camus then brought the leader to meet Rody.
That leader’s name is Wuyu. He was big and tall. He had a brown face and brown eyes. He also looked valiant. He knew how to speak the common language of the Empire but his pronunciation was not too accurate. When Camus told him about the Duke’s intentions to see their Chief, Wuya, Wuyu was surprised. Wuyu had also heard of the Duke of the Tulip Family’s reputation. He did not expect that such a big shot would personally go and negotiate. When he saw Rody’s young and handsome figure, he revealed an expression of doubt and disdain. He did not expect the Duke of the Tulip Family to be so young.
The mountain people were mostly big-sized warriors. On the other hand, Rody looked young and had the handsome face of a playboy. Although Rody could be considered tall and quite robust in the Empire, he was still considered relatively small-sized by the standards of the mountain people. When compared with Wuyu, even though they were about the same height, Wuyu was much more muscular and robust than Rody.
From Wuyu’s point of view, Rody’s giant-like bodyguard Randt deserved more respect…
The guards that Wuyu brought were also tall and robust. All of them wore wolves’ skin over their bodies and carried longbows on their backs. They smeared some strange oil paint on their faces which made them looked ferocious. Randt could not bear the sight of them but he just followed Rody closely, remaining vigilant.
On the same day, Rody took Randt with him as they followed Wuyu to the mountains. Randt had originally requested Rody to bring more people with them but Rody refused. Rody gave a faint smile and told Randt, “We are entering their territory. If they want to harm us, there will be no use even if we were to bring more people. We cannot bring an army into the mountains, right? Are we there to fight or to negotiate?” Looking at Randt’s puzzled expression, Rody continued, “Come to think of it, Wuya was able to unite all the mountain tribes. He must be a heroic figure. Naturally, he is unlikely to make things difficult for an envoy. This will be degrading for him.”
They traveled southwards from Purple Leaf City on their horses. After a day of traveling, they arrived at the Southeast barracks. Rody replenished his food and water at the barracks before following Wuyu into the mountains.
The way to the mountains was via a canyon, south of the Southeast barracks. After walking on a trail from the canyon for a day, they finally entered the mountains.
The terrain in the canyon was extremely dangerous. The narrow path only had enough space for two horses to squeeze through. The path was uneven and was full of all kinds of large and small rocks. The horses could only advance slowly.
The mountain people did not ride horses. Instead, they led the way on foot. They only wore straw slippers made from wild grass but they were able to progress through the mountain road as if they had wings.
By nightfall, they finally exited the canyon on the southern side and followed a small trail to enter the mountains. Rody and Randt finally abandoned their horses. The horses followed their instincts and would find their way back. The two of them then followed the mountain people to walk on foot.
Along the way, Rody saw that there were a lot of trees and the roadside was full of unknown weeds. The trees were so dense that they could blot out the sun almost entirely. Rody and the others only walked for a while but their trousers were already sodden with the dew and the saps of the weeds.
One of the mountain people led the way with his sharp longsword. He hacked at the branches that blocked their way. Rody felt a bit uncomfortable when he breathed in the humid air of the forest.
The further they progressed into the mountains, the sturdier the trees became. Some trees were so big that its girth needed two to three people to be able to hug it. Rody could not help but sigh. However, Wuyu proudly declared, “This is nothing! The largest tree at our place would require more than a dozen people to hug it!”
At night, everybody stopped to rest. The mountain people’s camping method was also very unique and strange. They did not allow Randt to start a fire. They said it was too dangerous to start a fire in the mountains. Randt asked them loudly. “Without any fire, how do we prevent the wild beasts from attacking?” The mountain people grinned. They hastily created traps with some ropes and sharp branches. They then took out the strange oil paint and smeared it all over their exposed skin. After that, they looked for a large tree. Those tall and strong mountain people then climbed the trees like monkeys and casually slept on the branches.
Rody and Randt looked at each either. Neither of them knew how to climb a tree to sleep there. Even if they were to climb the tree and sleep on it, they would be afraid of falling off the tree when they rolled in their sleep.
The mountain people did not bother to help them. Instead, they looked at the two of them with a gloating expression and waited for the two of them to make a fool of themselves.
Rody said nothing. He and Randt sat down under a big tree and leaned against the tree trunk. They then closed their eyes to sleep.
In the middle of the night, a cold wind was blowing. The chirping cries of birds could be heard. In the distance, there was also the continuous, faint howling of wild beasts. From the bushes, there was the assorted singing of various wild insects. All those sounds made Rody extremely disturbed. In the middle of the night, Randt could not help but jump up and attempt to catch and kill the mosquitoes that bit him. These movements roused the mountain people from their sleep. They all pointed and laughed at Randt.
Randt became angry and unsheathed his sword. He then argued with the people on the trees.
Rody also stood up. He suppressed the anger in his heart and stopped Randt. After that, he looked up at Wuyu and coldly said, “Wuyu, when you came to the Purple Leaf City, we showed you proper hospitality. We are now in your territory! Is this how you mountain people treat your guests?”
With those words, Wuyu’s laughter immediately stopped. Although it was not visible in the dark, Wuyu face showed shame. He shouted to the others on the tree in the mountain people’s language and they gradually stopped laughing. After that, Wuyu jumped down from the tree and walked up to Rody before saying, “You are right! This was my mistake! This is not how we mountain people treat our guests!” He then took out a small package containing the oil paint they used to smear on their faces. He then said in a low voice, “Apply this on your body and the insects will not bite you.”
The oil paint had a strange smell. Both Randt and Rody pinched their noses and desperately smeared the oil paint all over their exposed skin. Although the smell was unpleasant, the mosquitos avoided it and stopped disturbing them.
When morning dawned, the mountain people leaped down from the trees. The first thing they did was to kneel down as a group, facing south. They mumbled some kind of incantation. Their pious expression was filled with religious fervor as if they were worshipping God.
Rody was curious and could not help but ask Wuyu. Wuyu’s attitude towards Rody also improved and explained that they were worshipping the guardian spirit of the Flame Tribe. As for the name of the guardian spirit, Wuyu only knew how to say it in the language of the mountain people. The name had a bunch of strange pronunciations that Rody could not help but make a wry smile.
With that, they walked for several days. The forest became thicker and the mountain ranges could be seen. The towering green mountains could be seen in the far west. The birds were flying in flocks. Early in the morning, a white fog could also be seen gathering around the peaks of the mountains.
The appearance of wild animals in the forests also became increasingly more frequent. Wild boars, wild deer, and wild rabbits started to appear one after another. Those animals did not seem to be afraid of people. When the animals saw Rody and the others, they simply retreated a few steps back and observed them from afar.
Rody and the others had already finished eating the supplies that they packed. However, the mountain people were born hunters. All of them were good at archery. The arrows they used were different from the arrows used by the Empire. The arrows they used were not made of metal. They were made with the fangs of animals.
The mountain people could also move easily in the mountains. They were energetic and they knew the terrain well. Rody secretly contemplated. If they fought a war here, the Empire would suffer a lot of casualties. Camus’ words were not an exaggeration.
Originally, the mountain people did not think highly of Rody and Randt. One day, however, they changed their minds. Everybody was at a small stream on top of the mountain and had caught a few fish. Thereafter, they wanted to start a fire to cook the fish. (Rody thought it was strange that the ‘Flame Tribe’ seldom used flame.) Randt then went to the edge of a brook to chop some firewood.
They saw him pull out his broadsword and then they heard a loud sound. The tree that was as big as a person’s waist was immediately chopped into two halves. That made the mountain people awestruck as the tree came crashing down.
Everyone, including Wuyu, was stunned. After a while, they all started to shout. They ran up and took a close look at Randt. They then enthusiastically hugged Randt and muttered a few words that Randt could not understand. They all had expressions of admiration, surprise, and curiosity. Some of them even grabbed Randt’s sword to examine it.
Wuyu then explained to Rody that even the most powerful person among their mountain people would need several swings of an ax to chop down that tree.
Rody’s heart was stirred and could not help but asked, “What about your leader Wuya? How powerful is he?”
Wuyu immediately showed a pious and respectful expression as he seriously replied, “Our Chief, Wuya is a warrior bestowed unto us by God! He is an avatar! He is our guardian angel! How can we compare with our God?”
Rody did not believe in it, so he casually laughed. Wuyu noticed that Rody did not believe him and immediately became angry. He loudly argued about the greatness and terrifying strength of their chief, Wuya.
At last, Wuyu impatiently shouted, “Our Chief is the greatest! Last time, we fought a battle against the Silvermoon Tribe. Our Chief summoned the Mountain God’s Tremendous Ax and flattened the Silvermoon Tribe and their homes on the hills! This is a true story. A lot of warriors from the Flame Tribe witnessed that. I also clearly witnessed that!”
Rody’s heart stirred as he looked at Wuyu’s honest and impatient expression. With a blank expression, he asked, “What sort of weapon is the Mountain God’s Tremendous Ax?”
“Miraculous! It is truly miraculous!” Wuyu showed a marveled and respectful expression. After that, he solemnly said, “Our Chief stood on a mountain and shouted a few words. After that, he suddenly grew several times larger, as though he was a giant! The Chief then reached out and pulled an ax out from the sky! Before we could see anything clearly, the Chief had swung down his ax. The Silvermoon Tribe and the mountains were flattened! Flattened! There was nothing left! Men, women, children, the elderly, houses, trees, and even stones… Everything disappeared!”
Randt and Rody both thought of something… They could not help but exchanged a look with each other.