Shao Xuan heard that the old haunt had the ‘roots’ of Flaming Horn. These roots referred to the fire source. The fire seed and the fire sources were not connected, nor did they complete each other.
Today, the fire seed broke free from the fire pit through the fire source. Some flames had blue parts underneath, like a blooming flower.
According to the plan, the first phase was for the fire seed to break free from the pit. This meant that the first phase was successfully completed.
The shaman and Ao’s expressions were complex as they looked at the fire seed floating above the fire pit. From today on, everything was about to change. IN the future, they would never see the fire seed in the fire pit again. The ‘root’ of the old haunt would cease to exist.
But this was not the time to think. The two shamans looked at each other, lifted their arms and reached towards the flames in the pit.
The second phase was about to begin.
After the fire seed had broken free, they had to extract the fire seed out of Zheng Luo and the rest.
Both shamans chanted at the same time, their shamanic powers inducing blue flames to curl and rise.
The flames in the pit whistled in the wind as they flickered, as if they were summoning something.
Totemic patterns that looked like flowing lava appeared on Zheng Luo and his people, growing brighter by the second. When it was at its brightest, it looked as if there was a source of light from within their beings, shining through these patterns.
At the peak of this phenomenon, sparks flew from their patterns, then the sparks became flames, burning along the patterns. In the end, the flames slowly broke free and aggregated between their brows. It was similar to the changes of the fire source on the ground.
The changes started from their limbs. As the flames left their skin, the totemic patterns dimmed, colours darkened.
Palm, elbow, arm, shoulder…
Heel, knee, thigh…
When all the flames were concentrated between their brows, the patterns on their face turned dark too. There was only one spot of light on their face, like a miniature sun. In the end, this bit of light broke free from their bodies and floated towards the fire pit.
Thousands of floating lights looked like a swarm of fireflies, flying towards the fire pit.
The core of the fire pit shone brighter as thousands of lights merged as one, lighting up the place as if it was daytime.
When the last dot of light merged, the flames shot up with a ‘whoosh’, as if it was satisfied, dancing excitedly and celebrating with joy. The double horned totem was bright amongst the flames, looking like the sharp horns of a beast that couldn’t wait to burst out of the flames in a show of power.
The fire seed came from this world. As it changed, the people of the homeland could feel a mighty sense of power between the skies and the earth.
The second phase was complete!
When the two shamans saw this, they were slightly calmer. But it was not the time to rest. The last step required the utmost focus!
If the tribe decided to keep the fire seed in its primitive state, then the ceremony would end here. Although they had been separated for a thousand years, now, the fire seed was complete and whole. Two halves of the fire seed had merged with the fire source. This was the true fire seed! Finally!
The ancestors could finally rest in peace. The guilt festering within Zheng Luo’s people finally dissipated.
The old shaman heaved a long sigh. Since the decision had already been made, then they must walk down the path with no hesitation nor distractions.
The last step was also the most important once. They had to merge the complete fire seed with every warrior.
The shaman’s voice grew louder while the flames shot up into the sky like a knife piercing into the skies. It looked like a mighty warrior’s sword aiming to cut open the endless night.
The flames pierced through the layer of clouds and lit them all up. In a second, it looked as if even the clouds were on fire. Energy radiated outwards from the core of the flames.
The thick layer of clouds slowly turned a fiery red.
Under the skies, the pitch-black forest, the long mountain range, the long river…. They were all painted with a layer of red.
In this peculiar phenomenon, within the forest, birds flew in flocks, screaming in fear. All of them flew up into the skies and towards the Flaming Horn tribe, beating their wings with all their might. The dense flock of birds suddenly looked like a cloud that was alive.
Even the fearsome beasts that had already been asleep, and the nocturnal predators, were startled alike. Fearful roars echoed across the forest
Within the Wanshi tribe, the fire seed within their fire pit had already shrunk into the size of a bean, it looked like it was going to be extinguished any moment.
“What’s the matter?! What the hell is going on? Tell me!” The Wanshi chief, Fei Ji, screamed as he grabbed his shaman’s clothes, his eyes filled with fear he couldn’t hide.
They had never seen anything like that before, even during the last time Flaming Horn came here to set the fire seed alight. Such force ignited a fear within them.
Why was this happening?
They looked up at the sky. The fiery red clouds were slowly extending towards their village now. Turning towards the forest, they saw that the sky was already red there, as if the entire sky had been set ablaze.
Was that the power of the fire seed?
Why did their fire seed have such power?
Even other major tribes did not have this!
The young Wanshi shaman, shaken by his chief, didn’t answer. He too was startled. Previously, he had been unsettled because he had an inexplicable feeling.. Yet he did not expect something of this scale! He couldn’t help but think of a legend. He had heard of a story in the desert, one related to the fire seed, related to the ancestors of the slave masters…
How was this possible?
He had once used many methods to extract an answer out of the slave masters, yet he never succeeded, only feeling around the edges. Then how did Flaming Horn know? Where did they get the answer?!
The shaman’s heart turned cold.
They were too close to the Flaming Horns, hence they felt a huge suppression by Flaming Horn’s fire seed. Even their own warriors were mentally unwell. The surge of energy sent shivers down their spines, every pore felt like it was going to explode soon. They felt like they were standing next to Flaming Horn’s pit, they could feel the hostility of this power in their bones.
In comparison, the slave masters were faring better. Although they were also uncomfortable, it was still bearable compared to the Wanshi people. They too knew that something had happened in the forest. The only people who could cause such a phenomenon was the Flaming Horns.
The slave masters couldn’t help but sigh in regret. They should have agreed to invade Flaming Horn when half their forces were out of the forest! Even if they couldn’t attack, they still could have caused trouble. Then perhaps the changes today wouldn’t be at such a gigantic scale.
The fire seeds across the land also changed on a different scale.
Within the Mang tribe.
On Zhu Bamboo Mountain, the Mang shaman looked in the direction of the Fearsome Beast Forest, confused.
“Shaman, what happened? I feel… unwell.” The Mang chief felt unsettled and anxious, yet did not know why.
Not just the chief, everyone else felt the same. The more sensitive people, i.e. the advanced totemic warriors, felt it more. They couldn’t sleep.
The Mang shaman studied the energy in the air. “This surge of energy comes from the Flaming Horn’s fire seed.”
“Flaming Horn tribe? What happened now?” asked the chief, surprised. He had heard about Flaming Horn going to the desert, then bringing back many people. No one knew who these newcomers were or what they wanted to do. He also guessed that Flaming Horn had rounded up many slaves from the desert but according to reports, they didn’t look like slaves. Till today, they couldn’t figure out the answer.
“I don’t know either, but Flaming Horn’s fire seed is undergoing massive changes. I have never heard or seen anything like that before,” said the shaman in a sombre voice. Any unprecedented changes made him worried.
The Flaming Horns were no idiots, they would not take the fire seed lightly. Flaming Horn had been keeping a low profile for two years now, and he thought their tribe would continue keeping their heads down and live in the forest in peace. A thousand years had passed since the glory days of their tribe, they no longer enjoyed such prosperity. Even if they made several public appearances, everyone’s impression of their tribe would not change.
Flaming Horn had disappeared for a thousand years, rumours told that they did not even know how to make ceramic wares. They were a backwards tribe. Privately, major tribes like them did not ever take Flaming Horn seriously. They were just a tool used to control Wanshi.
In the past, they pitied Flaming Horn. It was a sad thing to see a glorious tribe fall. However, they were more relieved that Flaming Horn was no longer powerful. These people were violent and arrogant, one less competitor was a good thing for everyone.
The Mang shaman’s eye was twitching. Something unfathomable was happening, they didn’t know what.
Similar occurrences happened in other tribes. Warriors and shamans all had odd feelings. These shamans were sensitive to changes in the fire seed, yet they didn’t know what it was.
Even within the Rain tribe, far from Fearsome BEast Forest, Yang Sui also felt the changes. He was far away, so it was very faint but with his abilities, he could still sense its source. It was the same thing he felt at the Flaming Horn’s old haunt.
“Has it started?”
Yang Sui walked to the Rain tribe’s fire pit and looked at the flickering flames within.
The change has begun.