Looking at the two in front of him keeping their silence, Shao Xuan was the one who broke the silence.
“Hello,” Shao Xuan said as he flashed a friendly smile.
The fierce and barbaric image from before vanished immediately. The friendly greeting eased the atmosphere from the tense one before. The nervousness from the young couple melted away.
“H-hi……” Even though the atmosphere was less tense, the young man still stuttered when he spoke. He was still nervous when he spoke to Shao Xuan but as he remembered that Shao Xuan had just helped them, he flashed a small smile, “Thank you for your help just now. We are from the Maka Tribe. I’m Wan Fu and she is Shui Rui.”
From Wan Fu’s introduction, Shao Xuan found out that they were a newly-wed couple. The tribe wasn’t too far to where they were at and Maka tribe was the closest tribe around the area considering the fact that there weren’t many tribes in this far and dry terrain anyway.
As it hadn’t rained in a while, their two families were having a tough time so they decided to try their luck in this area. They didn’t know when the mist would appear but they were willing to wait. Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long because the mist appeared two days later. Hence, they gathered some fleshy edible plants and collected some water.
“Ah right, which tribe are you from?” Wan Fu asked Shao Xuan after his introduction.
“I’m Shao Xuan. About my tribe, I’m not sure where it is on this land because I was raised elsewhere. I’ve never seen someone from the tribe. My parents, ancestors all grew up outside of it.”
Shao Xuan technically told the truth. He was born and raised in another land and if this land had a fraction of the Flaming Horn tribe, he didn’t know where it was and he never met any of them before.
After listening to Shao Xuan, the expressions on the two’s faces changed immediately. Pity was written all over their faces.
Shao Xuan was silent.
Shao Xuan at first thought both of them wouldn’t believe much of what he said. If he said something like this at the beach, anyone listening would have thought it was nonsense. Some had lived their whole lives without meeting people from other tribes.
They had said many things: Is he a traveller? How could a traveller be so strong? How could they become an advanced totemic warrior so quickly? You need better excuses for such a lie.
However, the pair that stood before him believed every word Shao Xuan said without a hint of doubt. This made him confused, they weren’t stupid but they trusted his word without hesitation. That only meant, the situation here was different from the other side. Shao Xuan noticed the tattoos on the young warrior before, the colours were brighter. Even if it was the dusty yellow of the sand, it didn’t seem dark, it was full of life. It was much different than those he had seen before.
In Flaming Horn Tribe, other than Shao Xuan, when the others activated their totem energy, the tattoos were a little duller.
He found many things unusual here.
“Have you heard of Flaming Horn?” Shao Xuan asked as he carefully observed their reactions. This was a new area, if there were any Flaming Horn tribesmen around, he didn’t know how others viewed them.
When Shao Xuan was searching for this tribe from the riverside long ago, he kept a high profile, not withholding any information from anyone. His high profile made it hard for him to take back his words when the words Flaming Horn accidentally slipped from his mouth. Now, he was more cautious, this place was just a little too odd.
Wan Fu and Shui Rui didn’t say anything when they heard “Flaming Horn’, they seemed unfamiliar with it.
“Is ‘Flaming Horn’ the tribe of your ancestors? Or is it something else?” asked Wan Fu.
Looking at their unfiltered reaction, Shao Xuan nodded his head, “Yes.”
Wan Fu thought as he scratched his head and said apologetically to Shao Xuan, “I think I’ve heard it before but nothing comes to my mind now.”
“It's okay, I’ll search for it later.” Shao Xuan said with disappointment.
When Wan Fu and Shui Rui saw Shao Xuan’s reaction, they couldn’t help but lament, How pitiful!
Shui Rui couldn’t help but sympathise with the young man with the tragic backstory who’d helped her just now. She tugged at Wan Fu’s sleeve.
Wan Fu knew what Shui Rui meant, he had the same thoughts as well. He said to Shao Xuan, “Do you have any plans for now? Come join us at Maka Tribe if you don’t have any. We would like to thank you properly.”
Shao Xuan thought for a moment, “Okay, if you don’t mind.” He did need a place to stay while he explored the land to find out more about it and he needed a new set of clothes.
Wan Fu and Shui Rui were much more relaxed with the company of Shao Xuan, knowing that he could protect them. There weren’t many dangerous beasts around the area, plus they were also strong enough to fight most of the animals here, or they wouldn’t have come here. The encounter with the beetle was just bad luck.
As they chatted, Wan Fu opened up and talked a lot more.
“We came out in a group with the others from our tribe- we split up upon arrival, we’ll meet up with them at another spot later. We have no choice but to do so- it has been so long since it rained, the stream is dry now, our lives are tough. The only other option was to find another source further down but we didn’t want to venture too far so we came here to try our luck.”
Shao Xuan looked at them squeezing water out from the lichen into their containers. They then threw the lichen into their baskets to be brought back as the lichen was edible.
By following Wan Fu and Shui Rui, Shao Xuan learned some survival skills, which plants were meant to be eaten, which not.
“It would be great if it would rain, we wouldn’t need to come all the way for the mist,” said Wan Fu.
Even though he lamented, he didn’t have much to complain about. He was already used to living in this dry terrain. He could remember longer dry spells than this that he survived. There were always ways to survive as long as one was willing to find them. Only those that didn’t think or were unwilling to do anything would dry from thirst.
A vine on the not thick tree caught the attention of Shao Xuan. Some parts of the vine had
withered from the drought.
Shao Xuan broke off a part with one swift motion.
Wan Fu was busy collecting water droplets while talking so didn’t notice what Shao Xuan was doing.
Shao Xuan tied the vine in a knot and looked at the patterns. He threw it away soon after.
“In ten days, in the afternoon, it would probably rain,” said Shao Xuan.
Wan Fu and Shui Rui were stunned by Shao Xuan, they looked at Shao Xuan in surprise, “You can predict the weather?”
“Sort of,” said Shao Xuan.
Wan Fu and Shui Rui met their eyes, they weren’t sure if they could believe Shao Xuan. Even if it was true, they still needed to collect the water, they still had ten days to survive before it might come.
The two left with filled cans and baskets. They were headed towards the agreed location to meet with their group.
The further they walked, the thinner the mist got. The air got hotter and when they finally felt the scorching wave of heat again, they were once again surrounded by the barren land, the vitally of the previous land was nowhere to be found again.
In the journey to the meeting place, Wan Fu had hunted a beast while Shao Xuan had hunted two. Even though the beasts were not on the same level as beetles, they were much meatier than the beetles, which had many inedible parts. Shao Xuan who had been practically a vegetarian for a long time was just happy to have a change of diet.
Shao Xuan planned to have one beast for himself and gift the other to Wan Fu when they reached Maka Tribe. He had to give something to them if he planned to stay in the tribe for some time, he can’t solely rely on the goodwill he gained from saving them.
When the sun wasn’t directly over their heads, Shao Xuan saw some of the other tribesmen that came out with the couple. A few were injured but luckily none were killed.
Wan Fu introduced Shao Xuan to the others. At first, there were some judgemental looks passed around but after they noticed the two meaty games Shao Xuan was holding, they looked much kinder. Some of them had caught some beasts but none of them was as good as Shao Xuan’s.
When they reached the Maka tribe, the people were kind and shocked when they saw the two beasts Shao Xuan was holding. For the young couple, nothing could shock them anymore after they saw Shao Xuan threw that large rock and the beetle and kicked it away as if it was nothing.