The Taihe tribe’s leader was stunned and then suddenly realised what ‘that’s him’ meant.
The Pure Fruit!
The young man carrying some prey from the Flaming Horn hunting party was the person who snatched their Pure Fruit!
“Stand right there!” roared the Taihe leader, taking two large strides towards Shao Xuan. He was so angry the veins in his neck were bulging.
When he moved, Duo Kang moved too. With a turn, he stopped in the middle. “What, you want to take our prey?”
Everyone from Flaming Horn stopped, looking at the Taihe people. With one word from Duo Kang, they were ready to drop their prey and fight.
The people from Taihe were silent.
The leader had to swallow his anger for it was no time to act arrogantly. Suppressing his anger, he pointed at Shao Xuan and asked Duo Kang, who was between them, “Who is he?!”
As the Flaming Horn’s neighbours, while they were not very familiar with them, they were still aware of the people and affairs of the tribe. For example, they knew the stronger young warriors like Tao Zheng, Zhui and Wu Zhan. However, they did not know who this young man who took their fruit was.
At this moment, Duo Kang had already guessed why the Taihe people were so mad. He huffed twice. “None of your business!”
When he finished, he gestured to his team and left, leaving the Taihe people to sulk.
They weren’t strong enough to fight them. All they could do was sulk even though their fruit was taken from them. But that young man…
The Taihe leader decided to talk to his chief when he returned. So there were still people in the Flaming Horn tribe they didn’t know!
On the other side, Shao Xuan had already talked to Guang Yi about the pure fruit.
“So it’s called pure fruit.” It had been a long time since then. Ever since he arrived, he had spent all his attention on the tribe and forgot about the pure fruit. Sometimes he’d think of it but get distracted. The chief hadn’t told him to take the fruit out either so he’d forgotten about it.
“The thing’s in my house. I’ll give it to you after I get back,” said Shao Xuan.
“Sigh, you don’t have to. You took it, it’s yours now.” Duo Kang quickly waved.
Guang Yi had said the same thing.
“It’s not much use with me, it’ll be more useful if the warriors in the tribe can share it.” After hearing about its benefits, Shao Xuan had no intentions to keep it.
The hunting party was warmly welcomed by the tribe with their hearty loot.
The bridge made of tree trunks, more than ten meters wide, was already put down for them to transport the goods over.
When they knew of the harvest, everyone was excited.
After dragging the bone beast up the hill, Shao Xuan took his net and the tapirs to Zhao Ming and his brother’s family. It was given in return for letting him stay a night there.
When he knew Shao Xuan was coming, Zhao Ming abandoned his pottery and ran over without cleaning the clay off him.
There were older people who were familiar with tapirs who helped Zhao Quan with rearing them. It was better to eat them once they’re grown. And without the mother, the little ones might not live.
“They eat soft branches, leaves and fruits. Oh, also, the tall grass next to the river in front, they like those too.” An auntie who had reared tapirs before told Zhao Ming about them.
Shao Zun helped to build a pen for them and then was called up the hill. They were going to distribute the loot and the shamaness was looking for him.
The bone beast was distributed to everyone in the team. They had helped him during the process of transporting it back to the village. They were all eyeing it anyway.
After distributing the prey, Shao Xuan did not return but went straight to the shamaness.
Her house was very quiet. No matter how excited the warriors were, they would be quiet near her house, worried they might disturb her.
“You’re here.” The shamaness looked at him and put down her animal skin scroll. She waved, gesturing for him to enter.
It was a room built for storage, the windows were not open. A torch had to be lighted for everything to be seen clearly.
The shamaness had not lighted the torches. She walked over to a shelf. There was a box on it.
She took out the box and passed it to Shao Xuan. “Keep these.”
He recognised the box. There were three Elder’s Bones inside.
“All for me?” he asked, surprised.
“Yeah.” She nodded and sighed. “The ancestors will be happier with you.”
These three had glowed at the ceremony but only a few days after, they were dull once again. Although they were not as dull as before, they were still far from the bright bead on Shao Xuan’s neck.
Ever since the tribe was split, the beads had never glowed. There was no Elder either, Shao Xuan was an exception.
When she saw him hesitate, the shamaness said, “You can take them out again when both halves unite once again and a new Elder is appointed.”
“No, I’m worried I might lose them,” said Shoa Xuan.
Her face twitched. “Then put them on!”
“I can’t put them at home?”
When she saw him about to speak, she knocked her walking stick on the ground. “Put them on now!”
There was a hole on every bone ornament for the string to pass through.
Shao Xuan took off the necklace he was wearing, untired the leather string, strung up the three ornaments and then tied it up again.
When the four beads were placed together, their differences were stark. The three were significantly darker. However, the shamaness saw that they were brightening up very quickly, and soon they were as bright as the one he originally wore.
When she saw this, the shamaness sighed in relief. Looks like she had made the right decision.
Wearing the four ornaments, Shao Xuan walked out of her house. He picked out some of his share of meat to make some soup.
He shifted a huge stone wok out of the tribe’s storage. It was used by their ancestors. Sometimes, when the tribe was having a large celebration, they would take this stone wok out to cook for everybody.
One the first day, he cooked near the peak. On the second day, he cooked further down the slope. On the third day, he cooked near the foot of the hill. There was so much meat from the hunt that it was enough for everyone for three days.
As for the pure fruit, after he cut it open, he found about twenty little balls inside.
He took it to Chief Zheng Luo. However, Zheng Luo only accepted half as Shao Xuan’s gift to the tribe. He told Shao Xuan to keep the other half in case anyone needed it in the future.
After all this, Shao Xuan finally returned. He took out the three rocks he collected at the river to study them.
On the table next to the window, Shao Xuan washed and placed them where there was light. He studied them and shaved them with a knife. The hardness was similar to the rock he got from the mute crocodile.
The colour and texture were similar but he still couldn’t determine if they were the Water Moon Stone from the Drumming Tribe.
He might never know.
He heaved a sigh, rolling the rock in his palm as he reminisced the harvest of the Water Moon Stones at the Drumming Tribe. They could transform because of the Flame.
As he was thinking, he had a sudden thought. He cleared all the clutter in his mind and observed the difference in his mind.
The totemic fire in his mind was still there but the ‘outer shell’ was flickering.
The light flickered, and with every flicker, it got brighter. Shao Xuan could feel a thin thread extending out of the fire.
The thread of energy flowed down his shoulder to his palm, where the rock was.
Rustle rustle rustle----
It sounded like flowing sand, the same rumble he heard at the Drumming Tribe.