“You’re really… really from the other side?” the shamaness’ eyes fell on a specific spot.
Shao Xuan knew what she meant, nodding. “Yes.”
“Are all of you here? Where did you come from? Why are you wearing the Elder’s Bone?” The shamaness had always been a solemn person of few words, yet she was firing several questions at once.
Shao Xuan answered all her questions, telling her about the thousand-year history of the tribe, the life of the other branch of the tribe and other matters of where he came from. He also told her about other tribes and the slave masters on the desert.
“The slave masters of the desert were warring, I encountered the underwater tunnel by coincidence, that’s how I got here. The rest of them are still over there,” he said.
When Shao Xuan spoke of their lonely lives on the other side for the past thousand years, and their difficulties, the Shamaness and the chief secretly bled for them. Their eyes welled up.
The Flaming Horn Tribe described by their ancestors in their records were once a mighty force, yet after an incident a thousand years ago and the separation of their people, the powerful tribe had become two, surviving in the world alone.
“As for this ornament, I found some remains of our ancestors in a stone worm’s cave while hunting. That ancestor was wearing this. After that, the shaman let me wear this. When we went back to our tribe, as the fire seed was lighted again, this ornament regained its colour,” Shao Xuan told them about the Fire Giant.
When they heard this, the chief and the shamaness stood up emotionally, their voices solemn and the hand holding a walking stick shook.
“It’s true.” Shao Xuan took off the bone ornament hanging from his neck and passed it to the shamaness for a better look.
The shamaness tossed her walking stick aside, both hands carefully holding the ornament as if she was holding the most precious treasure in this world. Her eyes were filled with reverence. Then, she knelt in prayer towards a direction, two streams of tears flowed down her weathered face, dripping unto the floor. This was the first time in her life losing composure like this.
Chief Zheng Luo and the shamaness both performed the prayer reserved only for the most respected. Although they still had a Fire Pond here, it was not as active as what it used to be. However, they prayed in the direction of their roots, for that was what their ancestors once used.
Someone pushed the door open in great force, his face filled with anger and accusation. However, he paled when he saw the kneeling chief and shamaness because he was now directly in front of them.
This person immediately leapt away, his anger dissipated in a moment. Stuttering, he asked, “What-what-what-what happened?”
There were many people squeezed outside the door, including Duo Kang, Guang Yi and many others but they did not dare barge in like that. They were all whispering outside. However, the chief’s door was made using a soundproof wood so they couldn’t hear the inside, all they could do was suppress their curiosity. They were waiting anxiously outside but when they saw the kneeling two, the crowd flew to the sides immediately.
Upon this sudden interruption, the chief and the shamaness regained a bit of their composure. Although they were still emotional, what they wanted to know most was already known. There was time to ask about the rest.
They named a few people for them to enter, Zheng Luo giving the guy who barged in a dirty look. The person also understood that he’d done something inappropriate so all he did was scratch his head.
The people who came in were the highest-ranked tribe members. There were young and old.
The Shamaness repeated what Shao Xuan said, introducing Shao Xuan.
When she finished, all of them were wide-eyed. Some of them knew of this period in history, while the rest were confused. It was shocking news, it meant their tribe was never complete!
“Shao Xuan, you’re very young. It must have been a difficult journey coming here,” sighed an elder, looking at Shao Xuan with eyes filled with warmth and kindness. After a moment of thought, he added, “Everyone, take good care of him.”
Duo Kang smirked. “Shao Xuan’s stronger than Zhui.” While the ones here could beat Zhui, how many here could confidently win Shao Xuan? This guy did not need them to care for him, it would already be amazing if they did not provoke this person into hitting someone else.
“Right, Shao Xuan, how did you enter the tribe?” asked Duo Kang. Were the guards slacking off during patrol? The guards left their posts without permission?
Shao Xuan looked at Guang Yi, who was not speaking. “I was brought in by Uncle Guang Yi.”
When he heard his name, he looked up to see everyone looking at him sceptically. “I brought you in?” It was obvious he did not remember Shao Xuan. If he had spent more time with him or fought him, the memory would’ve been stronger but they didn’t.
“Yesterday evening, when it was almost sunset. You brought me to Zhao Ming’s house,” reminded Shao Xuan.
After a moment of thought, Guang Yi gasped, “So it was you!”
The chief and the rest were speechless. Duo Kaang cursed to himself, “Guang Yi you idiot, I was so underprepared for this I almost couldn’t blow the horn!”
The shamaness took a sip of water then said slowly, “Shao Xuan, since you’re an Elder in the other Flaming Horn, you’re also one here.”
The rest all looked at the shamaness. The position of an Elder had been empty for years, it was even a taboo to speak of it. The mere mention of it made the shamans sad, yet now the taboo was lifted? And it was passed to a person who could’ve been her grandchild.
Although they had their opinions, they did not dare speak up. Well, Shao Xuan’s appearance was still a very major thing to the tribe, plus the guy’s wearing the Elder’s bone!
It didn’t matter what they agreed on, the shamaness knocked her walking stick on the ground with a frown for them to quiet down. But when she turned to Shao Xuan, her gaze was much less stern. “Shao Xuan, you mentioned you weren’t sure if you can return safely through the underwater tunnel once again. Why don’t’ you stay for the moment? We can go with you once we have a better idea. Part of our roots is there after all!”
Everyone agreed and could not wait to leave. They wanted to see their ‘brothers’ on the other side.
Shao Xuan nodded. “Alright.” He wanted a better, safer method to bring the rest over too. He wondered if the people here went over, would Flaming Horn return to its past glory?
With a pause, the shamaness said, “In two days, we shall hold the ceremony for welcoming Elder Shao Xuan. Please make the appropriate arrangments.”
The most important things had been settled so the shamaness shooed everyone out. When they all left, the shamaness brought Shao Xuan over to show him records kept by her ancestors. Since he was an Elder, he had the right to see these things. There were records of their experiences and the changes in the fire seed.
Other people were banned from entering.
Shao Xuan read the records in the designated room. In the house next door, the shamaness pulled out the box containing the other Elder’s Bones. There were three inside, each had a dull bead. It was completely different from Shao Xuan’s, like a rusty knife compared to a new knife. There was a sense of deep, ancient sleep in them.
She decided to take them out during the ceremony. Perhaps these ornaments would be happy to see a friend?