The various tribes did not dare to oppose Wuya. However, they still looked at Rody with hostility, which made Rody feel uncomfortable.
At noon, they held a banquet as a show of hospitality to the guests, according to the customs of the mountain people. Numerous exotic dishes were served at the largest open space in the valley.
Although the mountains had an abundance of food, the cooking style of the mountain people was simple. No matter what game they caught, it was just roasted and then sprinkled with exotic spices. Rody ate for a short while and then noticed that a few of the people from the other tribes were looking at him with hostility. As expected, they later approached Rody carrying a large bottle of wine.
Since the Tribal Chief did not allow them to make trouble for the two people of the Empire, they intended to get them drunk instead.
The mountain women played a rhythmic tune with all kinds of strange, locally made, percussion instruments. There were also mountain people that wore fur clothing. They were at the center of the valley and were dancing in circles while holding each other’s hands. Some of them had roasted deer legs in their hands, others had wine bottles. Everyone was drunk and jolly.
Rody was watching these people shouting and hollering. He gave a wry smile as he looked towards Wuya. However, he found that the Chief Wuya had already left some time ago.
Rody sighed and pushed Randt away. Rody had been sitting at the side as he enjoyed the peculiar dance of the mountain people. On the other hand, Randt had a huge body and an outstanding capacity for alcohol. He only shook a little after drinking a dozen bottles of wine but was still calm and sober. Rody was surprised. He had also tasted the wine brewed by the mountain people. The wine tasted sour, bitter and peppery. It was extremely difficult to drink.
With nothing to do, Rody quietly left his seat and took advantage of the chaos to walk away.
None of the mountain people were alerted because they were busy enjoying the banquet. The other places in the village had very few people. But they constantly pointed at Rody because of his foreign appearance.
Rody unknowingly walked towards the houses with chimneys. He then heard some clanking sound coming from inside. Feeling curious at how the mountain people make their weapons, Rody could not help but walk inside.
The building has large doors and windows for ventilation. However, Rody still felt a rush of heat waves when he walked in.
There were no lamps in the room, but there was a huge burning stove in the middle of the room, constantly spewing out hot flames. He could see many half-naked men working with hammers and many different kinds of tongs. There were also some crudely crafted weapons at the side, ready for further remolding.
Rody smiled and felt that there were no differences between the blacksmiths of the Empire and the blacksmiths of the mountain people.
A few of them saw him but returned to their work without giving any strange reaction. One of them put down his hammer and walked over. He looked at Rody and shouted in the language of the Empire. “You. Weapons. Want?”
Rody froze for a moment before asking, “You know how to speak our language?”
The man loudly replied, “Sometimes, I buy things, go to your place, learn!” After he finished speaking he smiled, revealing his yellow teeth.
Rody had never met such friendly mountain people since entering the mountains. The other mountain people had always looked at Rody with hostility. However, the mountain blacksmith seemed to treat Rody kindly. Rody was impressed.
Rody returned a smile and casually picked up a long sword from a shelf. He then looked at the blacksmith inquiringly.
The blacksmith laughed loudly and replied, “This, good sword! You want, two wolf pelts!”
Rody nodded. He knew that the mountain people were behind the times and still used the barter system. There was no such thing as money.
Rody brandished the sword and looked at its sharp edges. He saw that the edges were really sharp and smiled. “Your weapons are not bad!”
The blacksmith immediately looked proud and said, “Mountain, best iron ore! Purple Leaf City’s iron ore, is bought from us. Not the best!”
Rody looked at the weapon and asked, “Are there any other weapons?” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Better ones?”
The blacksmith smiled and replied, “Yes. Prepared for strong and mighty warriors.”
The blacksmith took Rody into an adjacent wooden house. There was nobody else in that house. Rody then saw some longbows on the shelf. Rody picked one up to test it. Rody also picked up a strange-looking dagger. He then smiled and asked, “Do your people use swords?”
“Sold to outsiders.” The blacksmith took the dagger from Rody’s hands and then took a piece of wood from a corner of the room. He then chopped the wood with the dagger, and the wood split into two easily. After that, he returned the dagger to Rody.
Rody was filled with admiration as he looked at the sharp edge of the blade. A cold air seemed to come from the bluish blade. Rody waved it a little and found that its size and weight was comfortable. Rody liked it and smiled. “I want this. How much is it?” he asked.
After that, Rody took out a few gold coins from a small bag.
Rody then saw that the blacksmith shook his head and smiled. Rody then gasped and smiled. “Do you not want gold coins? I don’t have any pelts to give you right now.”
The blacksmith then approached Rody and said, “If the Duke likes this sword, I will give it to you.”
“What?” Rody was surprised as he exclaimed, “For me? You know who I am?”
The blacksmith then smiled and whispered, “I am General Camus’ man.”
Rody was shocked and immediately looked at the door. He saw that there was nobody outside the door and then he looked back and whispered, “What did you say?”
The blacksmith replied, “Duke. I am one of General Camus’ subordinates. I am here specially to transmit information to the General!”
Rody took a deep breath and asked, “You… are you a mountain person?”
The blacksmith whispered, “I have the lineage of the mountain people. However, the General was the one that raised me from a young age. A few years ago, the General sent me into the mountains to mingle with the tribe.”
Rody felt uncertain and asked, “Wouldn’t anyone doubt you?”
The blacksmith smiled and replied, “In the past few years, Wuya had merged many different tribes. The current Flame Tribe also had many people from other tribes. That is why I am not afraid of being suspected.”
Rody nodded, and the blacksmith whispered again, “Duke. The General has given me instructions to speak with you when you are here. However, it is not convenient to speak here. I also cannot have too much contact with you. Take this. This is the information I discreetly obtained the two evenings ago.” The blacksmith then gave Rody a wooden tube and continued, “This is Wuya’s secret. Go back and study it carefully.”
“Wuya’s secret?” Rody was shocked.
The blacksmith then spoke softly and said, “Wuya suddenly became weak a few days ago. Apparently, he was severely injured by an assassin. I have already informed the General. However, these days I noticed that he would go to the shaman every three nights as if he had to rely on the shaman to help him. During treatment, he is unable to take care of other things. I took the opportunity two nights ago to sneak into Wuya’s room and found something…”
Rody’s expression changed as he asked, “You sneaked in?”
The blacksmith showed a proud expression and replied, “I was raised and trained by the General! Wuya’s guards did not notice me at all!”
After that, there was the sound of footsteps outside and the blacksmith expression changed. He whispered, “Someone is coming! Keep this properly!” He then deliberately spoke loudly. “We have good things in here! If you don’t believe it, you can try!”
Two mountain warriors then opened the door and entered. Their faces showed that they were drunk. They shouted a few words towards the blacksmith. The blacksmith also laughed and replied. Their expressions changed when they saw Rody. That expression turned into disdain when they saw the dagger in Rody’s hands. Rody also did not speak and walked out. One of the warriors behind Rody then scornfully spat in his direction. If the Tribal Chief did not give the order, they would have already caused trouble for Rody.
Rody returned to the banquet. Although he was worried about the possible contents of the wooden tube, he knew that he couldn’t act rashly in broad daylight. He patiently stayed on at the mountain people’s carnival.
Several people from the other tribes were already intoxicated and some of them had taken off their shirts and were wrestling each other. People at the sides were cheering for the wrestlers. Wuyu, who was supposed to help translate for Rody, was also shouting in a drunken state. He had not noticed that Rody had left and returned to the party.
Rody continued to drink for a while. The carnival that started in the afternoon had continued until the evening. Rody used the excuse of drinking too much to retire early.
He made Randt stand guard in front of the door while he sat in his room and opened up the wooden tube. Rody then took out a small piece of rolled up cloth from the tube. There was a strange pattern drawn on the cloth. Rody looked at it carefully and realized that it was a map of Wuya’s room.
The map showed the positions of the guards, the entrance and also the door to the room. On top of the map were wavy thick lines pointing to the top. After that, there was a circle boldly outlined.
Rody also had doubts in his mind as he tried to recall Wuya’s room.
Wuya, as the Elder of the Tribe, lived in the largest building in the village. On top of that, he lived in the highest location on a tall wooden platform, allowing him to look down at most of the village.
The platform leaned against the walls of the mountain in its construction. The house was constructed in the same way. Rody compared this image with the drawing in his hands. He realized that following in the direction of the thick lines, the circle was located behind the wall on the map.
“What is this?” He could not help but murmur.
Andy laughed in his mind. “What else could it be? It is most likely a secret entrance!”
Rody shook his head and replied, “So, what if it is a secret entrance? Where does this entrance lead to? Should we go and investigate this? The current situation is uncertain. If we are too hasty, we may offend Wuya, and that is a bad idea.”
The two of them discussed for a while, but Rody could not come to a conclusion. He then went to sleep in low spirits.
The next morning, the various tribes once again had a meeting with Wuya. Rody, as the Duke of the Empire, would naturally need to attend. The mountain people started to become noisy again. Rody understood that Wuya needed him to prevent the other mountain people from attacking. Rody felt exploited by Wuya, but he needed to play his part for the ‘peace negotiations’.
Rody looked at Wuya, dressed in white, sitting quietly on the platform looking pale and white like jade. Rody thought that Wuya looked strange. He seemed different from two days ago. Rody felt that there was something different about Wuya, but he could not tell what.
While he was thinking to himself, Andy suddenly shouted in his mind, “I know! He seems to have become… older!”
“Hm?” Rody once again looked at Wuya and saw that he really looked a bit different.
If Wuya looked like a thirty-year-old man two days ago, the Wuya yesterday would look like a 34 or 35-year-old man. The Wuya in front right now looked like he had aged another two to three years.
“He is growing old too quickly.” Andy’s voice sounded a bit strange. “No wonder I always thought that he looked weak.”
Rody then whispered to himself, “This must be something that happened when he entered the Death Canyon. He must also be visiting the shaman every three days because of this!”
Andy replied, “This is strange. I have never heard of any magic or sorcery that could make people age like this. Even when a sorcery causes people to age quickly, it is not as slowly as this. That sorcery would make the person age a few dozen years in a day.”
“Maybe he has a way to counteract the spell, or maybe it is not a spell that you know of…” Rody shook his head. He looked at Wuya again and saw that Wuya’s eyes were closed. It seemed that Wuya felt disdain towards the noisy and endless argument of the various tribes.”
Andy suddenly asked, “Boy. Something seems strange here. Should we give it our attention?”
Rody maintained his calm expression but secretly laughed. “Andy. Aren’t you usually the most curious one? Tonight, Wuya would go and see the shaman. We might as well go and see what are the secrets of the person the mountain people call their avatar.”
“Haha… you need to be careful. That night, you had fought against the two Silvermoon warriors. The lies you gave would only trick a child. Wuya would definitely know about it. If you want to take risks tonight, it is your choice. However, do not blame me if I do not save you.”