The totem of the Hui tribe was an abstract whirlwind. The tribe itself was located on the highlands.
Horses ran freely across the highlands. Shao Xuan could spot them from the sky and even without close inspection knew that the horses here were stronger than those of the Feng tribe.
Gu La didn’t slow down, instead, he flew up the mountain.
The majority of Hui tribe lived up the mountain and just like their totem, was surrounded by clouds.
The part that was Hui tribe’s territory had the highest altitude in the whole mountain range. The mountain that was the main site of the tribe was the tallest one of them all. The top snowed all year round and clouds surrounded the body of the mountain which was where the Hui tribespeople lived.
There were eagles flying around the mountains but they were mostly the younglings. Some flew towards them out of curiosity but quickly retreated when they saw that Chacha was in a bad mood.
Gu La brought Shao Xuan to the middle part of the mountain which had many stone houses erected there. He saw that some of the people lived in the natural caves too. The tribespeople here were highly skilled climbers, he could see some children practising with adult supervision. Eagles hovered around them.
As soon as an eagle saw a child slip, the eagle would catch them and place them back on the stone platform. The platform was purposely placed there for children to rest while they were practising their climbing.
Shao Xuan could feel Chacha was slightly confused as the rhythm of his flying was disrupted just now.
Nothing odd happened in the surroundings. Some eagles flew by but they were the eagles from before so Chacha didn’t have any reaction towards them.
Shao Xuan looked up to see the higher parts of the mountains. He noticed that to the top of the main mountain, close to where the snow cap started, there was something faint. Its white body blended into the background well. If it hadn’t moved, Shao Xuan wouldn’t have noticed it.
Was that… an eagle?
It looked different from the rest, it looked more like a ball than anything.
The mountain’s surfaces weren’t flat and the slopes were dangerous. It was rare for something so huge to be able to cling on top like that.
Gu La stopped Shan Dao on a path made by the Hui tribe. This was the only way one could walk up the mountain or else they had to climb.
The road wasn’t exactly flat but it was wide enough for Chacha to rest on.
“This is it.” Gu La pointed at a cave not far from where they were.
The cave entrance was huge. It had a height of ten meters and the width of eight meters. The word “Hui (回)” was carved on the wall in a spiral-looking font which resembled their totem.
“Our shaman and chief are here,” said Gu La.
That cave was only used by the shaman and chief of the Hui tribe. Only the leaders of the tribe had the right to live in it.
The people inside probably had known about his arrival. At the entrance, Shao Xuan was greeted by the elder, He She that he recognised.
“Welcome to our tribe, the shaman and chief are inside.” He She smiled.
Shao Xuan turned back to say to Chacha, “Go on and play now, go make friends with the other eagles.”
“This is…?” He She looked at the eagle behind Shao Xuan.
“It’s him?! He’s back?!” He She and Gu La were very shocked but that cleared some things up for them. Surviving eagle mountain again explained how he got so big and he would still continue to grow.
“Congratulations!” He She said with admiration. The eagles rarely went back to the eagle mountain willingly like Chacha, even fewer came out alive.
The whole time the tribespeople were looking at Chacha, he didn’t spare them a look at all. He looked at the top of the mountain as if he was guarding something.
Shao Xuan followed his gaze.
Small stones and pebbles fell from the cave ceiling with light crackles. It sounded like it came from an eagle younger than Chacha but not to the point it wasn’t a fully grown eagle yet.
Everyone immediately moved away.
A black figure dropped from above along with stones and pebbles.
Chacha and Dao Shan used their wings to protect them from the falling gravel.
He She and Gu La plucked away the fluff in front of them and turned to look in that direction. Their faces turned pale.
“Shao Xuan! Shao Xuan are you okay?!” Gu La ran over.
The figure from the mountain top had landed right where Shao Xuan was standing. The people surrounding the area had horrified looks on their faces.
He She rushed over nervously.
There didn’t seem to be any smell of blood, he isn’t dead right?
The shaman and the chief were able to catch the incident happening before their eyes. It shocked the shaman so much that he dropped his cane. If Shao Xuan died here, how would they be able to break the news to the Flaming Horn tribe?
Luckily, they soon heard Shao Xuan’s voice.
“Damn, he’s heavy!”
Following the sound, the fallen gravel all were lifted up.
Shao Xuan looked at what he was grabbing onto, it was claws. This pair of claws belong to some bird, a beast bird.
With closer look the fluff that was flying around probably had fallen from some young bird.
Shao Xuan thought of the thing he saw on the mountain when he came here, he lifted it up to measure its weight.
It really was quite heavy!
How could it fly like this?
Also, why was the young bird so big?
The Hui tribespeople around him looked shocked.
He lifted it up! He even did it twice!
Are all Flaming Horn tribesmen like this?
For people who didn’t go out on expeditions, this was the memory connected to a Flaming Horn tribesperson that would stick with them for the rest of their lives.
They were really strong! Very, very strong!
Nobody else in the tribe was hit. Once an eagle as large as Dao Shan broke his bone and couldn’t fly for a long time because of this so from that moment on the eagles moved away as soon as they heard movement.
Nobody could imagine that the Flaming Horn tribesman who was smashed to the ground came out unscratched and even lifted the fellow up twice!
The young eagle felt that something was not right and turned to look but it was too round so it just rolled off.
The young eagle was around the same size as Chacha, Dao Shan looked skinny beside it.
Its eyes seemed to be drawn over with ink, it was surrounded by a circle of black feathers which was different from Chacha.
It rolled a full circle before it could stand up again and look at Shao Xuan. It didn’t notice the glare from Chacha and ignored everyone else that looked at it. Its big eyes looked at the cave walls then walked towards it step by step.
It was still a youngling but it hadn’t learned how to fly yet. It couldn’t hunt on its own but had a pair of sharp claws.
Right at the cave walls, it jumped up and flapped its wings while scratching the walls. Down came all the stones with its movements.
“What is it doing?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Practicing.” He She looked at it with warmth and respect.
“The younglings of great mountain eagles start practising soon after they’re born. They practice climbing, flying and using their wings, beak and claws. Every bird goes through thousands of tries. The unskilled or timid will perish, life is cruel for them but that’s how the great mountain eagles are.”
He She told Shao Xuan that the young birds may break their wings while practising but the tribespeople know better than to interfere.
It wasn’t because they were cold-hearted but this was for the betterment of the great mountain eagle. If they wanted to be a qualified adult, they had to put in the effort or when they faced their first threat, they might die.
This journey of blood, sweat and tears make them the great birds they were.
“Their life is full of challenges.”
No matter how many times they fail, they must get up again!
This was why the Hui tribe greatly admired the eagles.
That ball of a bird looked as if it would fall at any given moment but it held onto the cave wall and slowly climbed up.
Small stones would fall from time to time but the Hui people were already used to it. They had people that were in charge of clearing away the stones on the road.
Every Hui tribesperson looked at the bird with admiration, despite its oblivion.
“I have a question,” said Shao Xuan.
“It hasn’t been long since it was born right?”
“That’s right.” The shaman walked over and continued, “It broke through the shell on the coldest day of winter.
“No wonder, its feathers were so thick,” thought Shao Xuan.
“It is still a baby now so I assume it was large when it came out of the shell?”
“Yes, huge.” The shaman said with pride.
“Then how big was the bird that laid this egg?”
“The parent?” The shaman looked at Shao Xuan with a smile. “Haven’t you met it already?”
“I did?” Shao Xuan reached for the stone badge, “It's this one?!”
How big was Chacha when he was born? He wasn’t much bigger than a chicken egg.
This one could easily flatten a cow to death.
Shao Xuan remembered what Gu La had told him before.
The better the great mountain eagle, the bigger it was during birth.
No wonder Chacha was upset, he was like a poor child meeting a kid with a trust fund.