After that day’s meeting, the leaders from both sides took several days to think. Some stayed at home alone, others sat together in discussion. There had never been a problem that plagued them like this.
In the past, the hunt leaders only had to listen to the chief and the shaman, they didn't have to think. This time, there was an opportunity for them to voice their opinions, yet it was such a difficult matter.
Shao Xuan’s words had affected them greatly. No matter which path they chose, they had to give up a lot. All they could do was to choose the path that was best for the tribe.
That was why, after thinking for five days, the final decision was made to merge with the fire seed.
When the final decision was announced, both sides heaved a side of relief.
To the people from the homeland, although it was tough to accept this, since the decision had already been made, they felt much lighter. The hunt leaders often talked to Duo Kang and the rest how it felt after merging with the fire seed. What was the difference?
“Feeling?” Duo Kang pursed his lips as so many people surrounded him to listen to his answer. “It isn’t any special feeling. It just feels like there’s a fire burning inside my body when I hunt.”
It wasn’t a literal fire burning, it was just the fire seed fuelling their totemic power. However, Duo Kang could not describe much because he didn’t know how it differed from not having the fire seed.
“Your totemic patterns are so bright,” said one of the smaller hunt leaders admiringly.
“It’s not that great either, we use mud to cover these patterns up during hunts. We don’t want to reveal ourselves during hunts, hehe.” Although that was what Duo Kang said, everyone could see the proud look on his face. I’m bright and I’m proud.
The earliest batch of people might have had many revelations and given these people some pointers. It was too bad that as generations passed, everyone was already used to having the fire seed merged inside them since birth. To them, it was normal. Nothing special. Just like they would never know how it would be like for the people who did not have the fire seed. The tribesmen from the homeland would only know after the merging.
Many people started to look forward to this day. Some people wondered if the colour of their totemic patterns would change after the merging.
Merging with the fire seed was related to the future of the tribe, it was not a decision to be taken lightly. Although the two shamans often bickered due to different opinions, for this matter, both put aside their differences to study their ancestral records. Other people were not allowed to read these scrolls, hence this matter relied on these two’s research. No, there was one more.
“Ah Xuan, what do you think this sentence means?” The shaman asked as he pointed at a sentence on an animal skin scroll. He couldn’t figure it out but didn’t want to ask the old shamaness, so he decided to ask Shoa Xuan first.
In Ancestor Chi’s notes, he recorded the procedures for merging with the fire seed in detail. A lot of this information was received from the Taihe’s shaman, though later, the next generations of shamans discovered new techniques and hypotheses for better merging.
However, these were just hypotheses. No one confirmed them. They just had to memorise these and choose later.
During the next two days, Shao Xuan and the two shamans thought only about the fire seed.
Old Ke saw Shao Xuan returning exhausted every day and wanted to cook something for him. In the morning, he asked Shao Xuan, “What do you want to eat?”
Shao Xuan was chewing on a piece of meat when he answered distractedly, “Fire seed.”
When Old Ke heard him, he was stunned for a moment.
When they finally confirmed a set of procedures, Shao Xuan temporarily came out of his daze.
“Seven days later, there shall be a prayer ceremony within the tribe. It is very important, every Flaming Horn warrior must be present. Patrol guards, ill and injured patients, newborns all must be present.”
No one dared disobey the two shamans’ instructions.
At this point, all the warriors who went out for hunts had already returned. No one left over the past few days. The trading party hadn’t left in a long time too. Other than the ones blacklisted, everyone of the Flaming Horn blood, regardless of whether their totemic powers were awakened, had to be present at the ceremony.
The tribe was a large one now. Their previous management had several holes, plus there could be several ill-intentioned individuals within. That was why no one was told about this other than the key decision makers and people that were absolutely trustworthy.
However, everyone could feel that something was about to happen. Some said Flaming Horn was preparing for war, others speculated.
Chief Ao noted all these people who liked spreading rumours and kept an eye on them. If these people were truly ill-intentioned in the future, Ao would not show mercy.
Everyone was told about the prayer ceremony. The shaman said they didn’t have to wear the animal skin prayer clothing. They just had to be clean, neat and had taken a shower. There would be warriors present to check, anyone who did not fit these requirements would be sent home for a shower.
It was a very meaningful ceremony, for it was the first time the Flaming Horn was complete in a thousand years.
As the day approached, the atmosphere within the village grew tense. Even Zheng Luo and the rest could not stay calm.
Duo Li asked his father privately, “What happens if the fire seed fails to merge?”
In the end, Duo Kang did not say a word. He just smacked his son. He was asking for it, why would Duo Li ask him something so awful at a critical moment like that?
Seven days quickly passed. According to the tribe’s tradition, the ceremony would be held in the evening, beginning after sun set. It was the same this time.
Theoretically, the moon should be very bright at this time. However, there was a thick layer of cloud tonight. Since evening, the clouds seemed to grow thicker, completely blocking out any moonlight.
It was a dark night within the forest without the moon.
Fires burned in various parts of the village.
Both shamans stood before the fire pit, their faces solemn.
The old lady had never experienced the primitive method of activating the fire seed. It was also not the time for her to speak so she just followed the plan.
This time, there were four thousand more people participating in the ceremony. Ao allocated more land for them. They stood according to ranks with the chief and the hunt leaders in front, then the advanced totemic warriors in a descending order. The junior ranked and non-awakened once were at the back. Of course, anyone who had made large contributions to the tribe were also in front. It was the same as usual.
Other than the two shamans, Shao Xuan stood closest to the fire pit. There were six bone ornaments around his neck. Compared to the dullness a few days ago, they were all much brighter now.
As the shaman chanted, the flames roared in the pit, rising brighter and stronger than past ceremonies. However, after witnessing several odd events, everyone did not fret when they saw this.
As the tall flames curled, they lit up the surroundings. There was no music, no ritual dancers, all they heard was the loud chanting of the shaman. Then, the double-horned totem emerged.
Every totemic warrior’s totemic patterns appeared too. A portion of them had dark patterns while the rest had brighter patterns.
The flames within the pit rose higher, flickering although there was no wind. The people furthest from the fire could hear the flames whistling as they swayed.
Shao Xuan felt the flames in his mind activate along with the fire pit, expanding until it lit up the ‘outer shell’, which was also glowing in the dark.
With a ‘poof’, the round beads in the ornaments burst into flames which then extended to merge with the flames in the fire pit. This time, the flame giant did not appear. Shao Xuan had a feeling that the flames forming the flame giant were already inside the pit.
He felt his blood surge, as if it was already boiling. IN the blink of an eye, totemic power flooded throughout his body.
Crack crack crack---
Crisp sounds like crackling firewood could be heard, though they also sounded like exploded rocks after being exposed to flames for too long.
Six fiery rivers of lava appeared beneath the surface of the ground, extending outwards from the fire pit and thickening by the second, as if it was going to split the earth apart.
This was different from the previous ceremonies. This time, the fire source on the ground looked like growing tree roots, thickest near the fire pit. It looked like they were standing on lava rivers.
As the fire sources thickened near the fire pit, the distance between the six sources extending from the pit shortened.
The fire sources and the flames within the pit unleashed a brightness no one had seen before.
It sounded like something was going to bust out of the ground.
With loud cracks, the fire sources burst out of the ground, as if fire dragons swam up onto the surface.
At this moment, the rocks within the pit were all glowing bright red.
Crack crack crack!
The rocks stacked in the pit sounded like they were falling apart. Red flames burst out of the ground, then blue flames! The blue parts were like the sepals found at the bottom of the flowers, supporting the tall flames. All the flames within the pit leaned towards the centre and rose into the skies. Six fire dragons danced mid-air, now swimming towards the heart of the pit and finally merging into the flames.
The roots of the fire seed had always been buried deep underground, beneath the old haunt’s fire pit. Now, the roots had broken free of the pit!