“That’s right.” Zheng Luo nodded, “We can’t do anything about things happening in the desert. We are the first large tribe in the Flaming River region, we shouldn’t mess around with their problems. We stay in our lane.”
The two shamans agreed.
“Another thing,” the shaman continued, “After this winter season, we need to make some changes.”
Shao Xuan knew what the shaman meant by “changes”.
After Wanshi was destroyed, the tribe had been trying to find an opportunity to implement some changes. For the tribe to develop well, they couldn’t continue on with two chiefs and two shamans. With the leadership split into two sides, the tribespeople did feel divided. It wasn’t easy to make any decision under this system too.
For now, the disasters had passed and they decided to settle down here. It was time for a new chief and shaman.
Naturally, Gui Ze was the new shaman. She was already involved in many of the high-level meetings and in these past two years, the two shamans had passed on most of the things they knew to her. They wanted her to experience the last few things by herself.
The new chief was Gui He, this was settled quite early on too.
The two hunt leaders, shamans and chiefs would step back from their positions and become Elders but Shao Xuan would remain as the Grand Elder.
As they were all prepared for this, no one was surprised when the shaman spoke.
“When winter ends and the trading point is open again, I will invite the tribes in the Flaming River region here for them to get to know our new leaders,” said Ao.
This was discussed beforehand too. At the end of the season, they would throw a big banquet and invite representatives from a few tribes. To quote Ao, “let them experience our greatness”.
As the days got colder, the ducks stopped coming out from their sheds. The farms and beasts enclosures were protected and the green-faced fanged beasts once again went into hibernation.
Time flew past them and soon it was the coldest day of the season. It was still snowing.
This was a rather mild winter for the Flaming Horn tribespeople, even the children could step out of their houses without worrying too much about the cold.
In most parts of the river, a layer of ice had formed. The snow piled up on the ice making it seem like the whole mainland was covered in the same white snow.
On the upstream, some distance away from the Flaming Horn tribe, a large beast walked through the snow. It shook its fur, letting the snow on its body fall to the ground and lifted its head up to look forward.
Although it was quite far, the beast could smell food.
Its red tongue licked its fangs.
It moved forward again.
Large prints marked the white ground. The beast let out a huff of white air that blended perfectly into the background. Other than the sounds of the beast stepping through the snow, the only thing that could be heard was its low breathing.
There’s a lot of food in front.
It could even hear the word “food”.
Just as it was about to rush forward, it stopped suddenly. There was a noise coming from below its feet.
Its fur stood up in surprise. Moving forward wasn’t its plan anymore, it turned and ran.
However, it was too slow. As it turned it used too much power in its legs, which cracked the thin ice it was on. The cracks spread rapidly as the thin layer of ice collapsed, the beast into the river with it.
Water splashed into the sky, the beast’s struggles only made the ice crack even faster.
Under the water, a school of hungry piranhas went over to look at the commotion and started biting anything that moved.
The large beast let out a furious roar which could be heard on the other side of the river.
Although the river had frozen over, the weather still wasn’t cold enough to freeze a layer of ice thick enough for a human to safely pass through. A huge beast like that certainly didn’t have much chance of getting through in the first place, especially since it was walking in the centre of the river.
The beast struggled, clawing up in the air to no avail as it watched the man-eating fish bite away. This was quite a common scene in the winter. The large river was no more but the thin ice still prevented large beasts from crossing over to the Rain tribe and Drumming tribe.
However, there were still some areas further upstream or downstream that were much lower in temperature. The tribespeople wasn’t sure if the ice there was thick enough to support large beasts.
The Flaming Horn tribe rarely hunted during the winter. At most, they would send a team to check on the trading point. With the river frozen, the ships couldn’t be used so they let Chacha send their goods over. Since the two banks weren’t that far apart, he could easily send over the goods within a few rounds.
Shao Xuan had thought about making some tools for air shipments such as hot air balloons or gliders but the strong winds during winter didn’t permit that. Chacha was still the safest option.
That day just as Shao Xuan was polishing, someone came to report something to him.
“The shaman from the Drumming tribe is here.”
Shao Xuan placed down the thing he was holding and went up to the messenger, “Did you inform the chief and shaman?”
“Yes, but the shaman is here for you,” said the messenger.
Shao Xuan wasn’t sure what the shaman wanted so he went down the hill to find out.
Other than the hall up the hill, there was another one at the foot of the hill. Most of the time, it was used to carry out discussions or trades with people from other tribes.
Right before he entered that stone building, Shao Xuan sensed something and looked up.
The shaman came here on a crocodile as there was too much ice on the river for boats to flow through.
Shao Xuan had thought all the crocodiles had found a place to hibernate. He hadn’t spotted them during this period of time, most crawling animals didn’t like cold weather. He was surprised to see a crocodile’s large head peeking out through some ice in the river.
The crocodile opened its closed eyes as it felt Shao Xuan’s gaze on it. Although there was some distance, Shao Xuan could see its reddish-brown irises.
Shao Xuan averted his gaze and went into the stone building.
There was the shaman from the Drumming tribe seated beside the fire, holding a glowing gemstone. It wasn’t a water moon stone but something similar to it that Shao Xuan once collected on the other side of the sea.