Honestly, it was very comforting to have a concrete plan.
Shao Xuan’s conclusion was an antidote for the people’s worry but it was still faced with mixed reactions. That wasn’t the direction of their homeland.
Would they be able to even return to their homeland?
Four years of farming and building was all gone now!
The great Flaming Horn homeland abandoned like this...
Many of them did make mental preparations for this. Maybe one day their descendants would return to their homeland…
At the same time, they also remembered why they chose that plot of land to be their homeland in the first place. It was because of the fire seed!
The fire source was located at the homeland, they wanted to go there to complete the fire seed.
However, now that the fire seed was completed and integrated into the Flaming Horn tribes people's bodies, there was no reason they had to live at the old haunt. The fire seed could be passed down to the next generations just like that.
In the darkness, the ground shook around as it had a mind of its own. The tiny humans could do nothing about it.
Three days later, after one last explosion and large tremor, the shaking slowed down and didn't occur as frequently.
In that last blow, many more were injured, some were even killed. Luckily there was enough medicine so the death count remained low.
The dark and dense clouds of smoke were dissipating too. It didn't happen really quickly but the change was obvious. Soon enough, the tribespeople didn't need the help of the water moon stone to see clearly.
The situation was seemingly getting better.
The tribespeople regrouped. Counting the number of people left, many did survive the disaster. Even most of the travellers that followed the tribespeople survived.
Shao Xuan, the shamans, the chiefs and hunt leaders were all gathered in a small tent, planning their next move.
Up until now, Shao Xuan's predictions were mostly accurate so they decided to follow his decision without much deliberation. However, there were some that felt it was a pity to leave their homeland that they worked so hard to build up.
"Why not when the ground settles down, we send a small team back to the homeland to check and see whether we can continue our lives there. At least we can get closure on this matter," said Shao Xuan.
The shaman agreed, "I think this is a good solution."
If it wasn't for his weak body, the shaman would have wanted to go back and take a look too. He knew they were right on time, he couldn't hold back the team by making them wait for an old man to catch up.
The next day, the sky was still grey but it was considered much brighter than the past few days. At least they could tell the day from the night now.
Once things settled down, Shao Xuan and his team headed out to the old haunt.
‘This may raise even more questions than answers,’ thought Shao Xuan.
There was a high chance not everyone would return from the trip so only twenty people were selected to go over.
Most people from Ao’s camp were selected. They were much more attached to the homeland and the people from Zheng Luo’s camp needed to guard the remaining Flaming Horn tribespeople.
The team of twenty ran towards the homeland, leaving their traces in the thick layer of ash.
The ash wasn't completely clear, the sky was still murky. Sunlight peeked through shyly, just enough for the warriors to see the area clearly.
Luckily, the sun was still visible, or else it would be hard for them to find the right direction. The terrain was completely changed. Low-lying areas became hills and the hills that were previously there were gone now. Nothing was visible under the thick layer of ash. Maybe bones and smaller life forms (if still alive somehow) were hidden underneath.
The odd bird would fly through the sky looking lost.
Shao Xuan and the rest didn’t see anyone on their way back to the old haunt.
“This is it.” Shao Xuan stopped and looked to the front.
“Here? You’re saying this is our old haunt?! How is this possible!?”
Ao was utterly shocked. His eyes were filled with fear as he scanned the area.
In front of them was a rather flat piece of land covered in ash. It resembled a desert. This was their homeland?!
Ao started to tremble.
Shao Xuan stepped forward and pierced his sword into the deep layer of ash to flick it up.
There was unidentifiable gravel in the ground with some brown from dried blood. It could have come from the beasts that fled the forest or the wanderers who stayed in the homeland.
Shao Xuan looked through the layer of ash to see the situation below.
Most of the areas that bulged up were just stones from buildings, some were corpses of dead animals.
The beasts that ruled the forests were all defenceless against nature here.
Maybe there were still some beasts that survived the disaster but the Flaming Horn warriors were too preoccupied with looking at their homeland. There could be a place in the forest for them to call home but their homeland wasn’t one of those places.
There was a pungent smell coming from the ground. Shao Xuan grabbed a stone pillar and looked at it. If it wasn’t the pattern on the pillar, Shao Xuan wouldn’t even have recognised it.
It was the pillar he personally carved. It had fallen and smashed into a thousand pieces.
This was worse than what their ancestors had faced!
When their ancestors left, there were changes in the area but most of their items were still there. However, in this case, nothing was intact, everything was ruined!
The whole area was gone!
Four years of hard work, gone.
The dense forest and tall mountains, gone.
It was just a pile of dirt left.
Ao who was calm this whole time couldn’t help but weep. Some warriors cried too.
The rain came pouring down in an instant.
The raindrops fell onto the ground, flicking up dust as they did.
The rain washed away the grey smog in the sky. Some grey droplets landed on Shao Xuan leaving a trail as it continued its journey downwards.
The twenty people stood in the rain for nearly an hour. Then, they prayed to the ground, bidding this place farewell. Perhaps they wouldn’t be able to return to this place in their lifetime but maybe one day their descendants would revive this place once more.
The rain got heavier as time went on, the ground became mud. The line of people praying on the ground was covered in mud but they didn’t care.
As they got up, they looked at the area with grief but a hint of determination was still there. After that, they went back to the campsite. Their people were waiting.