When she saw Shao Xuan walking out of the house, the shamaness cracked into a rare smile. “You’ve read them all?”
“Yeah.” Shao Xuan approached the shamaness and sat on the animal hide on the floor. He couldn’t let the shamaness look up at him, her neck would hurt.
“Our ancestors always wished to return. Every year, we would send people to the sea to check if there’s a chance we can cross but all we got was disappointment. I can’t believe we met you,” sighed the shamaness.
“I don’t know if we can cross safely either. I was forced to come here, and got lucky enough to survive. I really don’t know if we can cross safely back, what about I go check?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Absolutely not!” stopped the shamaness immediately. She did not want Shao Xuan to bear this risk. It was a rare chance to meet someone from the other side. What if something happened to him? It would be too late to cry!
Shao Xuan recalled the experiences recorded by the ancestors in the scrolls then his own. “When I came through the sea, there was some dried seaweed in the tunnel, but that was all. I did not see the red and blue flowers in the records.”
“And that’s why you shouldn’t take the risk. We can always wait for opportunity, but if you die, we will never have the chance,” advised the shamaness. She was about to speak when she shuddered and looked at him in disbelief. “You.. You… You… You can read the shaman scrolls?”
The text scrolls did not mention the red and blue flowers but it was described in the shaman scrolls. People who did not know how to read shaman scrolls would not know this. If it weren’t for the fact that she had once written one of those and frequently flipped through them, she wouldn’t remember it so clearly.
“Yeah, I can.” Shao Xuan had thought that the people here might have evolved or even read the shaman scrolls since they already had the Fire Seed merged into their bodies. Looks like that wasn’t true.
“Other people can’t?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Your people can?” The shamaness was astonished.
He shook his head. “On our side, other than the shaman, only I can read.”
“You’re the shaman there?” she gasped.
“No, I’m the Elder. We have another shaman over there. He’s about your age but the old man has trained an excellent successor.”
“Why didn’t he let you do it?” In this moment, flashes of stories about how slave masters fought them for power surfaced in her mind.
The people over there did not have the fire seed merged into their bodies, it was rare for anyone to be able to read the shaman drawings. According to records, that time, almost every person who could read shaman scrolls would become the tribe’s shaman. Just like Zhi. That was why the old lady thought it was only fit they trained Shao Xuan to be the next shaman, for he was as talented as Zhi!
If she had the chance to meet the old man, she would have to discuss this with him!
“No, the old man has approached me many times but I refused,” explained Shao Xuan. It was not right for the old man to take the blame.
“Why don’t you want to be a shaman?” The old lady was curious. She had not found the most suitable successor here. Although there were a few people who could understand some parts of the shaman scrolls, they could not truly grasp the scrolls. It would take a long time to train them and they might never achieve Shao Xuan’s level of understanding.
“I’m not suitable,” said Shao Xuan. He couldn’t tell her that he was naturally restless and liked to roam about, with a tendency to cause trouble. A shaman like that would just cause problems in the development of the tribe. Also, in this environment, Shao Xuan did not think he was as wise as the people here.
She wanted to advise Shao Xuan to take her position but when the shamaness heard this, she swallowed the words. She wanted to scold him, yet couldn’t bear too. The complex change in her emotions made the muscles in her face twitch. There was a sudden urge to kowtow to her ancestors to vent her chaotic feelings.
After a chat with the shamaness, he left the house.
He had just come out when he was stopped. Chief Zheng Luo brought him to a place at the peak of the hill. It was an empty piece of land. Right now, there was a huge commotion as rocks were stacked and thick wooden pillars were carried over. There was the continuous sound of chopping wood.
They were building a house here under Chief Zheng Luo’s instructions for Shao Xuan.
“The house might not be done by tonight, you shall stay at my place for a night. It’ll be done tomorrow. We have dried animal hide, baked pottery prepared. You do not have to worry about anything,” said Zheng Luo as he pointed at them. Then, he roared at the people who were taking secret glances at them, “Focus on your task at hand! You, what are you looking at?! You almost chopped off your arm there!”
The people quickly turned to focus on their task. With the chief here, they could not daydream.
Zheng Luo then brought him further up the peak to a special place in the village. It was a ceremonial fire pond, and there was a warehouse and other structures there.
Shao Xuan felt like a monkey who wandered into a crowd of humans. Everyone was staring as if he were an exotic animal. In a few moments, more people crowded around them. Zheng Luo would then shout and shooed them away but in another few moments, new people would arrive and Zheng Luo had to shout again. This happened again and again.
They were curious. After all, Duo Kang’s horn had scared everyone and the matter had no proper closure. All of this started because of this foreign young man, and apparently this person was one of them!
A descendant of the Flaming Horn Tribe from the outside?
But if he were just a missing person who returned to the tribe, that still wasn’t important enough for the chief to accompany him all day. A few years ago, there was a long-missing man who returned with a wife and children. The chief and the shaman did not treat them like this. Right now, the chief was smiling the friendliest smile they’d ever seen. Ugh, they had goosebumps.
The leaders and older members all had a very odd expression on their faces. They were suddenly told about a welcoming ceremony to be held in two days. This made their curiosity bubble like a boiling pot of water, overflowing across the kitchen.
Duo Kang’s son, Duo Li, and Tao Zheng were gossiping with their friends. They had been shooed away in annoyance by the chief just now. They were currently talking about Shao Xuan while roasting meat over a fire.
They were chatting when Tao Zheng nudged Duo Li, who was biting into an animal’s thigh, his head nodding at something.
Duo Li looked over to see his father passing by, deep in thought. He did not even wipe off the grease on his face when he sprinted over.
“I haven’t returned to the Flame yet, what are you howling for?” scolded Duo Kang. the tribesmen believed in cremation at the Fire Pond. They believed that the soul would return to the Flame, or the Fire Seed, where they would be with their ancestors to guide the descendants.
“I was worried about you?” Duo Li offered his animal thigh, with a bite missing, to his father as an offering for peace.
Duo Kang looked at it in disgust then decided to leave.
“Hey, don’t go! Tell me about Shao Xuan,” asked Duo Li hurriedly.
Tao Zheng and the rest who were sitting by the fire strained their ears, fearing they might miss a word.
In the past, Duo Kang would have noticed these eavesdroppers but his mind was in a mess now.
Duo Kang looked at his curious son, then thought for a moment. He thought of a way to tell him about how the tribe was separated.
After a moment of silence, Duo Kang said, “If, I told you…”
“Mm! Tell me what?” Duo Li looked at his father in anticipation.
The rest strained their ears harder.
“If I told you, you had a brother…”
Duo Li’s hand shook, almost dropping his food.
“B--br--brother? What brother?” he stuttered.
Duo Kang scrambled to look for a word. “Same father, same mother, and born at the same time as you. A brother!”
Plop! The piece of meat in his hand fell onto the ground.