When Shao Xuan rose, Old Ke told him that the shaman had sent someone looking for him but Shao Xuan was asleep so they let him rest. Shao Xuan had to go see him after he woke up.
Putting down his bowl, Shao Xuan was planning to help wash some pots but Old Ke chased him out. “Both shamans and chiefs are waiting for you. Don’t waste more time, just go.”
“Shao Xuan grinned, patted Caesar, who was chewing on some meat outside his door, then went to the shaman’s place.
On the way, he saw warriors from both sides standing together, chatting. Nearby, there were people from both sides helping to construct a brick house.
Actually, Shao Xuan knew why the shaman so urgently wanted to meet him. The most important issue wasn’t related to merging the two tribes or the core seed, but the fire seed
Years ago, the tribe fell apart because of the fire seed. Both sides couldn’t agree so they had a fallout. They couldn’t say which side was wrong, both sides had their own reasons and their intentions were for the good of the tribe. However, both sides were tired of the separation after one thousand years. If they had a conflict here again, perhaps there was a chance to separate once again. Although neither side shunned the other, they required time to truly merge as one. They required a plan. If there were conflicts over the fire seed, then there could be more obstacles stopping them from true unity.
Shao Xuan was the key figure who brought both sides together, he held a very special position. That was why they needed his opinion.
There were people guarding outside the Shaman’s house. When he approached, they quickly moved aside.
When he entered, the atmosphere was awkward.
“No matter what, it was not a good decision to send half of your forces out like that, leaving the homeland vulnerable!”
“How would I know you all would return this way? I thought Shao Xuan would return with the fire seed, if there were too few people, what if we couldn’t protect the fire seed? The desert is very dangerous. It’s a long way from the desert to the forest- not just the slave masters, even other tribesmen might target us! Then what would we do?”
“That’s funny. Let’s not talk about the fire seed. Even if we were holding the fire seed when we came, just OUR people would have been able to protect it!”
“You all collapsed the moment you reached land…”
Both shamans were in an intense argument while the leaders from both sides were either looking up at the roof or the ground, some fidgeting with their fingers. No one dared interrupt, trying their best to disappear. Gui Ze’s face was red, he had failed in calming his shaman.
When Shao Xuan arrived, everyone turned to look at him like the hero had arrived.
“Ah Xuan, you’re here!”
“Shao Xuan, you’re awake?”
Both shamans finally stopped arguing when he arrived. Although their expressions weren’t too pleasant, compared to just now, they were much calmer. Both nudged their chins towards a seat at the same time for him to sit.
Shao Xuan realised that in the past, there were supposed to be two seats in front- one for the chief, one for the shaman. Now, the seats were moved. leaders and chiefs of both sides sat in two rows on both sides while one seat was left at the front.
Since everyone was looking at him and no one was upset, this must’ve been a prior decision. Shao Xuan went to sit with no objection.
When he returned, the shaman gave the two remaining bone ornaments to Shao Xuan. Not sure if it was because the bone ornaments were strained during the journey across the ocean, their beads were dull now. It was only until the shaman brought the remaining two to Shao Xuan and all six were strung together when the dullness faded a little.
Now, Shao Xuan wore six bone ornaments alone. He was the only Elder of both branches, a very special Elder too. When he sat, no one objected, as if this was what it should be. The elders who had watched Shao Xuan grow up had mixed emotions seeing the little kid from the cave grow so much.
“What were you all discussing?” asked Shao Xuan.
He was obviously not talking about the two shaman’s arguments, but the meeting.
Ao quickly took over the conversation, fearing that the shamans might argue once again. He also didn’t understand why both shamans could start arguing when they all started to talk. These past two days, the two shamans had fought several times.
“We’re talking about how to deal with the people who left a few days ago,” said Ao.
Due to news that WAnshi was about to attack Flaming Horn, some people panicked due to the rumours-- these people consisted of both wanderers and Flaming Horn’s warriors. These weren’t the original warrior tribesmen, but wanderers who returned to the tribe later. They relied on the tribe for protection yet ran at the sound of danger.
Flaming Horn did not want these fence-sitters. After making a namelist, they decided to blacklist these people, banishing them from the tribe, never to accept them again.
When the tribe moved to Fearsome Beast Forest, some people left too. However, soon after, people returned begging for the tribe to give them another chance. Since they all had the Flaming Horn blood in them, the tribe gave them a chance. Now, they had betrayed the tribe once again. If Wanshi ever declares war again, these people could run and affect morale. Might as well let them go now.
“And also… the decision regarding the fire seed.” Ao stopped talking after this. To them, they were more traditional. Without the fire seed, many people would feel uncomfortable. They couldn’t imagine life without the fire seed. However, these people in front of them were the product of their ancestor’s decision. Both sides grew under different environments, Ao still couldn’t make the decision.
Not just Ao, the hunt leaders were very hesitant too. Some were concerned with a future without the fire seed, some were worried the tribe would scatter just like the other side of the ocean. Zheng Luo had told them about this.
When they spoke of this, the entire house fell silent.
The old man shaman looked at the old lady who was about to speak, then cut her off. “Ah Xuan, tell us what you think.”
Since he mentioned Shao Xuan, the old lady swallowed her anger and did not speak. She looked at Shao Xuan, waiting for his answer. A person who could borrow their ancestor’s powers must be a person their ancestors trusted. That was why Shao Xuan’s views were important.
The problem of the fire seed must be solved. Pushing it aside was useless. If they didn’t solve this, then they couldn’t talk about the completion of the fire seed. The fire seed could be merged into their beings, then it could be removed too. The ancestral records denoted the procedures for removal. After removal, their fire seed would be whole again. However, should they merge it back into everyone’s bodies or keep it in its primitive state.
Shao Xuan thought about it but did not state his decision. “Rain tribe. I believe most of you know of the,.”
The people who had been nodded. Even the ones who hadn’t, had heard of them. They also nodded.
Shao Xuan continued. “The Rain tribe lives in an arid land close to the desert. Without enough water, their lives would be very difficult. The Rain shaman’s ability to pray for rain was the main pillar holding the Rain tribe together when they prospered. And the existence of this tribe probably far exceeds many large, famous tribes.”
The abilities of the Rain tribe were well-known. However, not many were clear about their long history.
“The Rain tribe’s shaman can pray for rain because he uses their tribe fire seed’s powers. However, they slowly lost the ability to pray for rain. Suddenly, praying for rain became very difficult, the number of failed attempts increased. In the past hundreds to thousands of years, the act of ‘praying for rain’ became more of a legend. It was until two years ago when the new shaman finally prayed for rain once. However, it is still extremely difficult now.”
Sensing what Shao Xuan implied, Ao and the rest were shocked.
The fire seed was born in this world. Like a fire torch, it would extinguish one day too. The way to keep it burning forever was to keep it in their bloodline, and it would be passed down generations.
If one day, the fire seed weakened and disappeared... the Rain tribe lost their ability to pray for rain; what would Flaming Horn lose?
If the Flaming Horns lost their advantage of being physically stronger, how would they survive amongst the tribes, where ‘survival of the fittest’ was the rule for existence?
What happened to the Rain tribe was just the beginning!
While they might not experience the direct effects, in the future, thousands of years later, would the Flaming Horn descendants blame the,? Would these people here become criminals in history?
Shao Xuan looked around. “I know what everyone is worried about. In the ancestral records, there lies one sentence left by an ancestor named Chi.”
Shao Xun introduced ‘Chi’ to everyone. That year, when Flaming Horn was in trouble, all three generations of shamans were present. The old shaman had retired for the new shaman. The old shaman brought Flaming Horns ‘history’ into the forest and sat in a cave. He waited for the day Flaming Horns returned to bring this precious ‘history’ out again. This ‘history’ had long been taken back by Shao Xuan, the people here knew of it.
During the disaster, the new shaman was already training the next future shaman, Chi. At that point, the new shaman, Chi, and the chief left with the tribe to hide from the natural disasters. However, there were conflicts during the journey. The chief and ‘Chi’ brought half the tribe away, looking for a new path, while the shaman left with the rest of the people. This lasted until the lands separated and a large river isolated them from the rest of the world.
Zheng Luo’s part of the tribe could merge with the fire seed because of Chi. chi was the pioneer.
As he spoke of Chi, Shao Xuan looked at the two shamans. These were ancestral records, not every person was authorised to know if its secrets. Since they both nodded, Shao Xuan continued talking.
“In the records, Ancestor Chi said that the fire seed never disappeared. It has always been here, living in the blood of the Flaming Horns. And it would live forever as long as the Flaming Horns live.” He paused. “Then, there was another sentence. If the tribesmen exist, the fire seed will exist; if the tribesmen’s hearts exist, then the tribe will exist.”
If everyone’s hearts were one, with no distractions, then it didn't matter if the fire seed could aggregate all their powers. If their souls were not united, not everyone was thinking for the good of the tribe, even if the fire seed existed, what good would it be? The fire seed could control the people but not their hearts. Just like Dao Yu the traitor, the wanderers who gave up on this life, the warriors who ran after hearing rumours of war.
Zheng Luo’s part of the tribe had already merged with the fire seed a thousand years ago. Although they didn’t have the fire seed’s primitive powers of aggregating everyone together, they remained united. The Flaming Horns worked hard to lead a prosperous life, plus they did not have to worry about other people targeting their fire seed. Even if someone left the tribe, as long as they truly wanted to return, they could still return after a long time.
Such was change. No matter the path, they must sacrifice something.
Outside the Fearsome Beast Forest, within the Wanshi tribe.
The young Wanshi shaman stood by the fire pit. As he stared into the fire seed, he looked depressed.
“It is afraid,” said the Wanshi shaman.
“What?” asked the Wanshi tribe, who didn’t hear the shaman because he was frustrated with his own thoughts.
“The fire seed, it is afraid,” said the shaman once again. “Something is going to happen.”