The Yi family would feel threatened by anyone with a little divination talent. Not panic, but enough to irritate.
It was a very uncomfortable feeling. To them, who pride themselves on being able to reveal the universe’s secrets, it felt like a knife hanging above their heads.
This year’s snowstorm was already a slap to their faces. Ever since the weather changed, so many people visited with precious items in hopes of getting hints about the future. Yet the Yi family could only offer limited help.
The Fox chief’s arrival had undeniably given them a place to vent their frustrations. They felt like they found an explanation for their discomfort.
Perhaps they had been feeling threatened because of the Flaming Horns?
Didn’t one of the Yi family members have a prophecy? The six noble families had always worried about what it meant. The last time Flaming Horn visited King City, the guy had thrown Linlu’s chief in the air with just one move. He destroyed the city gates and that was enough to make the city folk grow wary. At that time, someone suggested that the Flaming Horns might be a threat according to their readings but most did not believe it.
Right now, after listening to the Fox chief, the Yi family started to plan. On the next day, they would go to the palace to talk to the lord and other heads of families to discuss,
To, they should nip a threat when it was still in the cradle, stopping it from growing. They had been increasingly upset since the day their city gates were destroyed.
“Flaming Horn can accurately predict the weather?!”
“Forget about the weather, did they really survive the king beast?!” This scared many people. They thought about the prophecy: ‘everything united must part, everything parted must unite’. They were very uncomfortable.
Air was tense within the palace. Once a cloud of questions formed, it would not dissipate quickly. Especially the ones who had been suspicious for long, they finally found something to cling to.
If the Flaming Horn people heard this discussion, they would have a heart attack. Nonsense! If they could survive the king beast, would they abandon so much good quality salt and fire crystals in the mines?!
But if these people think you’re a threat, it will take a lot to convince them otherwise.
Even the coldest winter would pass.
Winter came early in full force. It lingered for long before leaving.
When the snow finally stopped and the sun finally broke through the thick clouds, everyone roared at the skies.
It was sunny again. Winter was officially over. Temperatures rose quickly and did not give anyone time to prepare.
The tribesmen cleared snow, though Shao Xuan had already pushed most of it out. It was only knee-deep in most parts, these were where Shao Xuan practised. The village was swept often so there was not a sudden large-scale melting there.
Water flowed down roofs and houses, everywhere was wet. The patrol team couldn’t bear to watch their ice watch towers melt. However, they still preferred warmer weather. That meant they could hunt again.
As the snow melted, the river in front of the village rose quickly. Everyone living at the foot of the hill had to move upwards. There were large pools of stagnant water in the forest too so it was still difficult to hunt. However, water also forced the animals in hiding out of their homes so the warriors hunted many small animals nearby.
After a long winter, the ducks burst out of their pens, quacking loudly and leapt into the river despite the cold. Some flew far into the forest.
The keeper finally got to see the fat duck’s ducklings.
Little green balls of feathers walked out with the fat duck, cautious of everybody even though they did not attack.
“Thirty-one, no less,” chuckled the keeper. “Hey, what are the ducklings eating?”
Shao Xuan looked. “Probably earth…”
He wanted to say earthworms but realised the ducklings ate insects that were as thick as his thumb. He saw a full mouth of sharp teeth.
“Probably the insects from underground.” He didn’t know what these were called but they were probably forced out of the ground because of the water.
There were many worms and insects that came out of the riverbanks. As the river rose, the land was submerged in water. Many insects moved up the hill, which delighted the ducks.
The fat duck and its thirty-one ducklings ate insects floating on the river. They ate everything, including insects other ducks didn’t like.
With these ducks, the tribe did not have to remove pests themselves. The riverbank was filled with happy ducks who fought over food.
The weather changed very quickly. They were still wearing thick fur yesterday, yet today they could wear their regular hunting clothing. The ones working were already drenched in sweat.
“This weather is very peculiar indeed,” said Shao Xuan.
Not sure what sudden changes like that meant.
Winter was over. The tribe would hold its annual prayer ceremony to its ancestors soon. However, the shamaness and the chief seemed to be distracted these days.
Shao Xuan knew they were waiting for news. Even if they couldn’t do it this winter, maybe next winter would be the same? Then they could catch that opportunity.
But Shao Xuan had a feeling that their idea might not work.
Two days later, all the snow was cleaned off in the village. After three days of sun, the ground was dry and the river dried quickly too.
This river was connected to another outside the village. There were filters built to stop dangerous animals from getting into this river, but water still flowed. The river was back to its original water level now.
That night, the ceremony went on as usual. The scouting team had not returned. It was expected. Travelling required time, and it took longer to travel in the snow.
This ceremony was more sombre. The shamaness and chief were not active, everyone who knew of it was distracted. However, to pay respects to their ancestors, they had to push aside their emotions. Thinking can wait till later.
As the shamaness sang and chanted, the flames roared within the fire pit.
Any residual cold air that night was chased out by the heat.
Shao Xuan’s bone ornaments reacted too. Its flames connected with the flames in the fire pond to form a tall flame giant.
The tribe was no longer surprised by the flame giant. However, Shao Xuan had a different feeling this time.
The power of inheritance within him was no longer surging manically. This flame giant was activated purely by the power of the bone ornaments, similar to the past few ceremonies. Shao Xuan did not control it.
As the flame giant appeared, everyone knelt in prayer. Even the most arrogant warriors, or the moodiest old people were all kneeling in respect. Especially the warriors who went with Zheng Luo to the salt mines. They prayed sincerely. Without the protection of their ancestors, they would not have survived.
Shao Xuan looked up at the giant. Last year, the giant had turned slightly to face the direction where Shao Xuan had come from. Today, the flame giant turned again to face the same direction. However, the giant then lifted an arm and pointed.
Many people witnessed this, even the ones with lowered heads looked up when they heard gasps.
Ancestors, what are you hinting at?
The shamaness was stunned. She stood by the fire pit in shock, looking at the giant. She only continued initiating the ceremony when the flame giant vanished.
When the ceremony ended, everyone went back and discussed what happened.
Next to the fire pit.
Only embers were left.
The shamaness was still there.
“Shao Xuan, do you hear it?” she asked.
“The voice of the ancestors.” She closed her eyes.
“What did they say?” asked Shao Xuan.
Shao Xuan looked at her incredulously, confirming that she was serious.
“You plan to migrate?”
“Yes. The ancestors appeared just now to give an instruction,” said the shamaness.
“But how will we return? Don’t we need to wait for Xiang Chen to return with their news?”
“They might not bring good news.” She sighed. “But the ancestors are definitely telling us that it’s time to go back.
This was what the shamaness thought. If the ancestors said to return, then it was time. As for how, they would have to figure it out. She did not think the ancestors would tell them to do something impossible. Perhaps there was already a method, they just didn’t know it.
Shao Xuan mulled over her words. He looked up to see her staring at him.
“Why are you looking at me?”
She smiled. “Maybe they’ll tell you the solution someday.”
Then he’ll just have to hope. Shao Xuan smirked sarcastically.
At the same time, on the other side, in the Forest of Fearsome Beasts, there was also a ceremony in the Flaming Horn tribe. The old shaman stood at the fire pit, looking at the fire seed and thought about the flame giant in the pit just now. The giant had lifted an arm and pointed in a direction.
What did that mean?
The old man stood silently in the night breeze, unmoving.