Strong warriors were well-respected here. They soon took back the judgemental looks they had shown when they saw the torn up clothes Shao Xuan wore.
The sun was setting when Shao Xuan finally saw the Maka Tribe.
A stone wall separated the tribe from the outside world. Looking from above, Shao Xuan could see the neatly arranged stone houses. They weren’t huge, though some of them had a small yard.
The tribesmen at first didn’t care too much about the stranger Wan Fu brought back but the torn up clothes and two beasts that Shao Xuan was holding caught their attention. The seemingly random combination of items that made people wonder, who is this?
On the journey over, Shao Xuan found out that this tribe wasn’t bound to any totems but they had other beliefs. They were mostly spiritual and the things they believed in weren’t the source of their energy. Any stranger that lives with a family in the tribe, and doesn’t cause trouble would also be accepted as a member of the tribe.
As they got closer to Maka tribe, Shao Xuan started to feel confused. He didn’t feel the presence of a flame in the tribe.
Shao Xuan asked about the fire ponds. He was told that the tribe had one that was probably left from their ancestors. It was used during ceremonies but it was different from the ones Shao Xuan knew as this pond didn’t have any flames in it.
Wan Fu told Shao Xuan that all the tribes here had the same kind of pond. The flame was only mentioned when the elders were telling stories. No one was sure about how it disappeared, it was too long ago, they had no way to find out.
Wan Fu lived with two elders and his brother’s family. His brother, Wan Fa didn’t follow them to the mist but went with another group to search for water in another direction but they could only find some dried fruits.
Shao Xuan told Wan Fu that he would only stay here temporarily, he would leave after a few days.
Wan Fa wasn’t as kind as his younger brother. When he saw Shao Xuan, his gaze was judgemental and alert as if he was looking at a criminal. Even when he saw the two beasts Shao Xuan caught, he didn’t change his attitude towards him.
Wan Fa had already disliked Shao Xuan for the shabby clothes he wore and when he saw that Shao Xuan was only using a stone sword, the disliked turned into disdain. This guy uses a stone sword! No wonder he was wearing such old clothes. Ah, a stone sword. It was what his great-grandfather’s grandfather used. In their tribe, anyone that was just slightly competent would use a metal sword. In the eyes of Wan Fa and some other people, Shao Xuan was only a good-for-nothing beggar.
Wan Fa purposely waved his long dagger in front of Shao Xuan. It wasn’t only Wan Fa that had that, most people in Maka tribe had all sorts of metal weapons. Weapons of any shape or size made from wood, animal horns and other materials were mixed with metal or were full metal. Other than some elders, none of the young warriors had stone weapons.
Of course, there were some arrogant bastards who thought Shao Xuan’s stone sword was too plain that they wanted to switch his stone sword for a rusty old sword they had. Shao Xuan certainly didn’t want to switch. He calmly looked at them. They felt an uneasiness creeping up on them and turned around to leave.
Even when Shao Xuan’s gaze was calm, it had some unnerving quality to it, as if a large hand was pressing down on anyone looking at him.
Wan Fu kept a nice attitude towards Shao Xuan. He brought out a set of his old clothes that he got Shui Rui to alter for Shao Xuan. They didn’t have any new fabric and certainly didn’t have any new clothes.
Shao Xuan didn’t mind the old clothes. Anything would be better than what he was wearing.
Shao Xuan had a huge appetite, the two beasts that he caught were gone in a day. He had one to himself and gave the other to Wan Fu’s family. He went out on the second day to hunt again and came back with a beast. It became a habit for him to go hunting every day to feed himself and share part of it with Wan Fu’s family.
People started warming up to Shao Xuan from his actions, especially the young ladies in the tribe. They started walking past Wan Fu’s house much more frequently. Some even dressed up to look for Shao Xuan and block him just to exchange a few more sentences. If they could get such a great hunter as a husband, they wouldn’t have to worry for the rest of their lives.
Seeing as Shao Xuan’s popularity was rising, more young people went to pick a fight with him. Shao Xuan usually ignored them, if he couldn’t he would settle the dispute as quick as possible. There weren’t many advanced totemic warriors in the tribe. Most of the younger generation were mid-tier totemic warriors like Shao Xuan. He had no intention of bullying them.
After having a better understanding of Shao Xuan’s abilities, fewer people picked fights with him. Some high-level tribesmen even tried to convince him to stay as he was such an asset but their efforts failed every time.
From Shao Xuan’s short stay, Wan Fu’s family quality of living improved tremendously. The elderly and children were much more energetic than before. The only problem they faced was water. Shao Xuan wasn’t able to help them as the rain stone wasn’t efficient enough in this dry area.
However, the water that Wan Fu and the rest collected before could last them for ten days if they rationed properly. Ten days later, their problems would be solved.
As he saw Shao Xuan giving them the game he caught every day, Wan Fu, who originally wanted to thank Shao Xuan, felt even more guilty as he has been benefiting from Shao Xuan again. He could only repay Shao Xuan’s kindness when Shao Xuan asked about things. Wan Fu would answer as best as he could when he didn’t know the answer he would ask others for him. This actually helped Shao Xuan.
That day was the tenth day Shao Xuan had stayed in Maka Tribe. He had a basic knowledge about the tribe and he didn’t plan to stay any longer.
When he walked to the door, Shao Xuan stopped and stared at the sky.
“Hey, you aren’t going out today?” A sleepy Wan Fu saw Shao Xuan and asked out of curiosity.
During his stay, Shao Xuan left to hunt every morning, only returning when the sun was setting. Wan Fu’s family was used to his routine. It wasn’t usual for one to hunt every day but this warrior was different from the rest.
He saw Shao Xuan look at the sky again and remembered what Shao Xuan had told him ten days ago. He walked to the door to take a look.
The sun hung high, some clouds were in sight but in this place, the rain was never guaranteed. There were times where the sky was grey with clouds and thunder could be heard but soon after they were gone and the sunny sky reappeared.
“I’m leaving today. Thank you for the hospitality.” Shao Xuan said as he turned to face Wan Fu.
“What? You’re leaving now?” Shui Rui said as she walked out. She had noticed the changes in the house, there was so much leftover meat hung outside to dry. Many were jealous of the addition in her household but she knew that people like him would never be stuck in such a faraway place like the Maka tribe. They thrived in cities or larger tribes.
Shao Xuan didn’t come with many items and he left in the same state. The most significant change was his clothes, he didn’t look as shabby as before.
When he was leaving, he met a group of tribesmen that were returning from their trade. They had some metal weapons, cloth and other items with them.
The group consisted of three advanced totemic warriors, two middle-aged tribesmen and an elder. Shao Xuan wasn’t afraid of them as he was already leaving. The group took a few glances at the stranger.
Wan Fu sent Shao Xuan off and walked back into the tribe.
“Wan Fu, who was that?” asked someone close to Wan Fu in the group.
“Oh, he is Shao Xuan, saved Shui Rui’s and my life. He stayed with us for ten days. Very amazing man, he went out hunting every day!” Wan Fu got chatty when he saw his close friends. He told them the full story of Shao Xuan saving his life in great detail and may have polished some parts to make the story more interesting.
“Wow, he is really that great?!”
“Yes! Yes! Really great!” Wan Fu nodded continuously. Every time he told his story, many didn’t believe him saying he was lying or exaggerated but he wasn’t, it was all true.
The group was like the others that heard the story, they didn’t believe much of it, the young people in the tribe liked to exaggerate stories anyway.
However, the leaders in the group thought about it for a while and the energetic old man asked the person beside him, “Why do I feel that I heard this before? The way he threw the stone at the beast felt familiar.”
“Same here, but I can’t think of where I heard it from,” said the person beside the old man.
“This barbaric way of killing beasts, I’m certain I heard it before. Maybe I heard it when I was in the city.”
As the three leaders of the group discussed, the others had nothing much to say. No matter what they thought, they wouldn’t dare to refute anything the elders said.
The elder asked Wan Fu, “I saw him talking to you before he left, what did he say?”
Wan Fu was turned serious. The man talking to him was the current leader of the tribe leader’s grandfather. The elder ranked high in the tribe and was highly respected by others.
Wan Fu replied in full honesty, “Ten days ago when we were out gathering, Shao Xuan said that it would rain this afternoon. He was reminding me then to clean the jars we kept meat in to collect water later.”
When Wan Fu finished his sentence, the younger ones in the group couldn’t hold back their laughter.
“Haha! You believe this? What is he? A shaman?”
In the tribe, that kind of people wasn’t generalised as just shamans, they were differentiated by their sexes. The men were shamans, the women were shamanesses.
“Exactly! Why would a shaman come here? ‘Born and raised outside, doesn’t know his roots?’ What bullcrap!”
“He should be beaten up and thrown out.”
“Only Wan Fu can believe this bullshit. How old are you to get fooled so easily?”
The young men continued their conversation as the three leaders kept their silence.
The elder flashed a smile, “I’m overthinking. Alright, let’s move the things inside.”
Wan Fu wanted to defend Shao Xuan but seeing the elder had spoken, he could only swallow his words. When he got back home, he and his wife quickly prepared the jars for later.
Noon soon passed.
The young men that came back from the trip were bragging about the things they saw on the trip to their friends while the elders were discussing and reflecting on the trip.
The sound of thunder came from afar.
Everyone stopped their actions. All tribesmen dropped what they were doing to run out and look at the sky.
Looming grey clouds were approaching them, bringing strong winds. They could see how fast the clouds were moving, how they seemed endless like an army marching towards them.
Thunder continued to roar.
It seemed that it was really going to rain, it wasn’t just thunder.
“Hurry! Get the jars!” shouted someone.
“Ah, mine are all filled!”
“I don’t care, clean it now!”
“What about the things inside?”
“Throw it out! Hurry!”
In this ever-changing weather, who knew how long it would rain for. Anyone would regret immensely if they missed the rain.
Large raindrops dropped to the ground, stirring up dust as they did.
The sky wasn’t clear anymore, it was dark. Its looming presence sent chills down people’s spine.
Soon, more rain came pouring down, as if someone was pouring water from the clouds.
The children let out screams of joy as they ran out to play in the rain.
The baffled young men that were bragging to their friends murmured, “It really rained.”
The leaders, especially the elder thought the same. That man actually got it right!
Was he really a shaman?!
The people that tried to convince Shao Xuan to stay felt immense regret. They should have grabbed onto his leg and begged him to stay. They had a shaman in the tribe too but he wasn’t as powerful. He didn’t even dare to mention that he was one in the cities. This person could predict the weather for the next ten days. If only they could make him stay ……
At that time, Shao Xuan was long gone.
The cacti in the surroundings soaked up as much water as they could in their roots. Their stems that were previously flaccid became turgid from the water. They were water collecting machines working their best to prepare for the dry days ahead of them.
Shao Xuan swept off the water from his face. He looked at the stormy sky and smiled as he continued his journey forward.