When Shao Xuan saw those birds fly over their tribe, although he couldn’t see clearly due to the distance, and Chacha was not there to help him, he went up to the watchtower to take a closer look.
Many flocks of birds had passed their area. Even though not all birds passed by here, the number of birds that passed by above the tribe was enough to startle and worry the people of the tribe.
Because they didn’t sense any other abnormalities, the tribal people could only keep a record of the birds each day and keep a close watch over the sky.
But when this flock passed by, Shao Xuan sensed something unusual. When the green figure was blended into the flock, Shao Xuan couldn’t tell it apart, but when it left the flock, it became apparent.
The green figure departed from the rest of the flock and flew towards the tribe. As soon as it did that, many from the flock also followed it and changed their directions, and then even more followed.
Some were as big as their leader, while others were slightly smaller in size and flew weakly. These ducklings were less experienced and stable as the one in front.
Shao Xuan knew that there were other whistle towers in the tribe, and they probably noticed these birds approaching. Right away, Shao Xuan took out his wooden whistle and warned the others not to attack those birds.
When the green figure slowly descended, the people from the other watch towers also recognised them.
“Oh, look! Isn’t that our duck?!” One of the Flaming Horn warriors who came from the seaside exclaimed.
“What duck? Do you mean that duck flying over here?” Those soldiers who had never seen the ducks before were confused.
“It is! I recognise them!” Another person shouted.
Shao Xuan looked at those flying figures and whistled a familiar tune on his wooden whistle. When he was living on the other side of the sea, he had also blown the same whistle tune. As he blew the tune, he wondered whether the birds still remembered it.
The fatter ducks were at first hesitant, but after observing their surroundings vigilantly, they flew in circles in the sky, as if wondering where they should land. When they saw Shao Xuan, they immediately flew towards him.
Although Chacha was not there when these birds arrived, Gui He’s snow falcon was ready to attack those birds as they approached. Luckily Shao Xuan blew a whistle to warn the falcon before it attacked.
Shao Xuan had already confirmed that the one who led the flock was the same duck he caught when he returned from Gongjia Mountain. But when they were living on the other side, the duck was still quite fat. Now, it had become scrawny.
That was why some warriors from the other side couldn’t recognise them. Before, these ducks were so fat. One duck weighed as much as two normal ducks, but now not only were they skinny, they also became scrawny.
As the birds approached the tower, the green ducks continued to observe the warriors that they were unfamiliar with vigilantly.
This was an instinctive behaviour. The ducks were protecting themselves against strangers, and they even took a few steps back from the warriors who stood with Shao Xuan when he was at the top of the tower.
After some hesitation, the green duck flapped its wings and landed on the handrail. It called out to Shao Xuan.
Although these birds sounded strange compared to other ducks, you could tell they were expressing their joy.
Quack Quack Quack
The other ducks followed tightly from behind and imitated their leader. They slowly landed on the handrail one after another.
When the rest of the tribe looked up at the tower, they saw a circle of green ducks on the handrail at the highest level of the tower.
Some of them recognised the ducks and exclaimed happily, “Have our ducks returned?!”
Some people who heard this sentence figured out the history of those ducks. When the two groups of the tribe united, they had also shared about the ducks they had raised, especially the green duck.
Even the workers at the animal pens hurried over excitedly. That year when the caretaker of the duck circle left the tribe, he had lost all hope and longed to stay. He thought he would never be able to see those ducks again. Now, he couldn’t believe his eyes! They were right there in front of him!
Shao Xuan counted the number of ducks on the handrail. When they left, the green duck had not brought along its second generation. It was still happily playing in the waters. Back then, there were only about thirty ducklings. Now, there were more than fifty of them standing in front of Shao Xuan.
Their sizes varied. Some of them were the same size as the fat duck. Other young ducklings were only about half their height.
There were about twenty-five large ducks. They were probably the second generation hatched that were missing that year. Perhaps they had lost their way or something else happened.
The flock regarded the first duck as their leader. Although some remained vigilant, others had already begun to preen their feathers.
The green duck looked at Shao Xuan but noticed he did not respond. Then it called out once more, louder than the last as if it was pleading Shao Xuan to look at it.
Shao Xuan drew his gaze away from the ducks. Whether they were migrating or escaping from a disaster, he knew that the ducks must be tired. Even if the two tectonic plates had drawn closer to each other from the earthquakes, it was still a long journey. The ducks were exhausted from the trip. Two of the smaller ducklings couldn’t even stand firmly on the handrail when they landed.
Shao Xuan grabbed onto a rope hanging from the top of the tower, then slid down to the ground from the highest floor. The tribesmen weren't patient enough to take the spiral staircase in the tower, preferring this direct method of travel. To the totemic warriors, it was a simple action.
As Shao Xuan slid down, the leader of the ducks flew down, following behind him.
Because there were many unfamiliar faces in the tribe, the ducks kept a vigilant gaze and stayed cautious.
Shao Xuan saw the keeper from the animal pen come over, and the green duck had seen him too. Although it didn’t fly to him, it called out loudly in recognition.
When the keeper saw this, he was glad all the effort put into taking care and raising the duck before this wasn’t wasted.
Shao Xuan followed the keeper, and they walked together to the animal pen. Shao Xuan knew that these ducks were different from the beasts. The animal pen was too far, and although there was a river in front of them, crocodiles of the Drumming tribe had already marked that as their territory. The crocodiles would not be friendly to these ducks. If they let the ducks live there, they would fly away in terror immediately.
Shao Xuan thought about it for a while. He changed his direction. He no longer walked in the direction of the animal circle. Instead, he was walking toward the human-made lake.
Last time, to make the boats, they had to create a giant man-made lake. It was a decent place for the ducks to settle in.
“Elder, are the ducks staying with us?” The warrior who took care of the beasts asked worriedly. He heard that these green ducks departed from their flock in the middle of their journey. Wouldn’t they leave again? Should they cage them up?
“Let’s build a shed for them and see whether they would like to stay,” Shao Xuan replied.
The ducks seemed like pushovers, but Shao Xuan knew that these ducks were not weak like other ducks. They weren’t mild-tempered animals either. If they locked them up forcefully, it wouldn’t do much good.
If the ducks were not living happily, they shouldn’t even expect them to lay eggs. Besides, Shao Xuan had noticed from his previous observation that nearly half of the ducks were female.