The Jing tribe wasn’t a huge tribe. They had a population of less than a thousand, not even half the Gu tribe’s population, and they’re not even a battle-style tribe. However, one should never look down on any tribes that managed to survive no matter how small they were.
After Shao Xuan entered the Jing tribe, he noticed that besides wild fruits and vegetables, the rest of their food were fish and smaller wild beasts. After all, non-battle-style tribes were limited in their attacks so they couldn’t hunt different types of prey, so all those beasts were probably hunted with the Gu tribe’s nets.
However, this tribe with less than a thousand people had an even larger territory than the Gu tribe!
No doubt, in a remote place like this with few people and lots of unclaimed land, they got to set their own boundaries. In theory, they could claim as big a piece of land as they wished, but there were many factors they had to consider. If they set too large a boundary, they would not have enough manpower to guard the entire place. If there were too many entries and gaps along the boundary without enough guards, they would only be setting a trap for themselves.
So every tribe would draw the boundaries of their territories according to their own ability.
The Jing tribe was not dumb either. If they could survive up till now, how could they be stupid? How would they not know about this?
But still, they claimed such a huge piece of land!
Shao Xuan’s doubt was resolved only after he entered deeper into the Jing tribe. That was when he found the answer.
Although the Jing tribe had such a huge piece of land, more than half of it was a quagmire!
If you looked down from above, all the quagmires in the Jing tribe resembled an eye, similar to the eye drawing on the Jing tribe’s totem sign. The outer quagmire encircling the area acted as a barrier, preventing any external dangers from getting close, but within the Jing tribe, there was yet another round quagmire in the exact centre of the tribe.
The Jing tribe’s houses were also stilt houses, but they were not as complicated as the ones in the Gu tribe. Most of their houses were built directly on the ground. Only the shaman’s house was different. It was located above the quagmire in the centre of the tribe.
From the shape of the quagmire, it was obvious that the Jing tribe made these themselves, or else how could it be shaped like an eye?
The Jing shaman brought them into the tribe. They didn’t have a house large enough to serve all the Flaming Horns, so the Jing shaman received them outside. However, for private discussions, the Jing shaman brought Shao Xuan into the house above the quagmire in the centre of their tribe.
Before this, the Jing shaman asked Shao Xuan if he preferred to discuss in other houses in the tribe or to go to the one in the centre of the quagmire. Shao Xuan chose the latter.
Hearing this decision, the Jing people also heaved a sigh of relief. Although they were not as defensive towards them because of the Gu tribe’s introduction, they still tried to stay vigilant. The centremost quagmire was closest to the fire pond, so according to traditional tribal thinking, the closer they were to their fire pond, the safer.
The Jing shaman was also quite surprised by Shao Xuan’s decision, but only for a while. He did not ask Shao Xuan about his reason.
After telling the others to wait outside the quagmire, Shao Xuan walked along the wooden bridge built above the quagmire and followed the Jing shaman into the largest and most special house.
The Jing tribe was similar to the Gu tribe. The shaman had an unchallenged authority. There was not really a need for a leader in their tribe and they could have one or not have one, but in the Jing tribe’s history, they often had times when no one assumed the position as the leader in their tribe. The shaman had many responsibilities and they had a powerful say in all their tribe’s decisions. Basically whatever the shaman said would remain undisputed. Within the tribe, no one would dare object the shaman.
After the Jing shaman opened the door into the wooden house and brought Shao Xuan inside. He looked quickly at Shao Xuan’s face. He was surprised when he saw no changes in Shao Xuan’s face in response to their fire seed’s presence.
Shao Xuan studied this house on top of the quagmire. Within the Jing tribe, this was already considered a mansion. It covered a large area, so they obviously had to think carefully before building. They put a lot of effort into choosing the materials and designing the place. Most of these buildings were made from wood and looked sturdy. They didn’t look tattered at all.
After they entered the house, Shao Xuan noticed some decorations in a corner of the room made from ground eye stones. One of these decorations had a bottom pyramid-shaped base.
On top of this base was a green “Universal Eye”.
This one was twice as large compared to the nine universal eyes the Gu shaman gifted to Shao Xuan. The colourless parts of the stone were almost transparent, and its green parts looked refreshed with a crystal glaze. It looked like a real beast eye, but its dead-cold stare didn’t make people feel uncomfortable. Instead, it gave people an urge to keep staring at it.
It was truly a shaman’s living space. Even his rocks were bigger and prettier than others’.
Seeing how Shao Xuan was staring at the Universal Eye with mere surprise and curiosity in his stare, without any greedy intentions, the Jing shaman relaxed. He smiled cheerfully and proudly and explained to Shao Xuan, “This has been passed down to me by my ancestors. If you count its age, it’s probably around eight hundred years old. It’s quite old.”
“Old?” Shao Xuan didn’t understand why the Jing shaman used this word to describe it. Isn’t this just a rock?
As if he knew what Shao Xuan was thinking, the Jing shaman continued, “Of course it ages. It will die too. Ground eye stones have a lifespan too.”
“Universal Eyes can live up to a few hundred or even a thousand years, but normal ground eye stones can’t. They can only live up to around a hundred years. Many of these stones could only last a few decades before they closed their eyes forever.”
Putting it this way made it sound creepy, but Shao Xuan understood what he meant.
“Where do they come from?” Shao Xuan asked again. Ground eye stones were products of nature. They were not polished by humans, so where did they come from?
“Where?” the Jing shaman stroked his beard slowly. “It came from within the “ground eye”. They were extracted from within the ground eye’s body.
“And the ground eye is?”
“It’s a beast that lives underground.”
This stone actually came from within an animal!
Hearing the shaman’s explanation, Shao Xuan thought of the reason.
Just like how pearls had a shelf life, these ground eye stones that originated from the insides of a beast also had a shelf life. The better the quality the longer the shelf life. That also meant that after their shelf life, these ground eye stones would die and never open up their eyes again.
After he explained how the ground eye stones were formed, he didn’t mention anything more about the Universal Eye and the “eye”. The shaman was extremely cautious when they talked about these and was not willing to talk about it.
“You said that you have matters to discuss with me? What is it?” the shaman asked. Although the Gu shaman mentioned some things on the linen scroll, he only mentioned the Flaming Horn’s interest in the ground eye stones. He also wrote that they could use these stones to trade for goods with the Flaming Horns. Besides these, there was nothing else.
“I think you already know about our strong interest in your ground eye stones, including your normal stones, the Universal Eye, and the ‘eye’.” At the end of his sentence, Shao Xuan lifted a finger and pointed at the part of his forehead between his brows. His eyes were still looking at the shaman, but his meaning could not be any clearer.
The shaman was just getting friendlier, but hearing this, his expression changed immediately and a harsh defensiveness flashed across his eyes. “So that’s what you want?!”
Shao Xuan remained calm and continued speaking at a well-paced speed. “We have all sorts of beautiful stones, and also other methods and tools used to tell the direction, but this time we are here for the “Eye”. We don’t know what you call it but we would like to get one from you.”
“Impossible!” the Jing shaman stood up and stared straight at Shao Xuan. “I know you Flaming Horns are strong, but even if you have it you can’t use it. Without our blood, you can never merge with it, regardless of how strong you are!”
The ground eye stones probably had a strong connection with the Jing fire seed. People with different blood and fire seed energies would probably repel its energy, so they could never succeed.
“I know,” Shao Xuan continued. “I just want to know if this thing can be used on fearsome beasts?”
The Jing shaman wanted to reject even before Shao Xuan finished his sentence, but after hearing him speak, he was stunned. Looking at Shao Xuan’s eyes, he seemed like a madman.
The Jing shaman’s eyes already had a straight answer, but Shao Xuan still looked at him with determined eyes, waiting for his answer.
“You want to give it to a fearsome beast?”
“Yes. I have a fearsome beast that lost an eye.”
The Jing shaman inhaled deeply and breathed out intermittently. His eyes arched upward and the line in the middle of his forehead was wrinkled on both sides.
After a while, the Jing shaman finally spoke.
“We have never tried it before.”
Perhaps their ancestors had tried it, but there were no written records left behind. Plus, the Jing tribe migrated here a thousand years ago and followed the river here. They chose this location because it was close to the river, and this river was also flowing in the dry seasons. A thousand years ago, the Jing ancestors chose this river formed after the disaster from before, which had also experienced the second disaster, after which it became known as the Flaming River.
Compared to other tribes, the Jing tribe migrated quite frequently during their years of existence. Because of this, there were quite a lot of ancient written records lost during their migration.
The remaining records that the Jing tribe still preserved were left from the last migration, but ever since they came here, besides the first two years in which they encountered some weaker fearsome beasts that lived in the border regions, they never encountered any more beasts, up till now.
That was why the Jing shaman couldn’t answer Shao Xuan’s question.
“Then do you have any extra eyes?” Shao Xuan asked.
The Jing shaman was just about to immediately reject, but he suddenly thought about something and held his tongue. He was silent for a while.
Seeing the shaman’s reaction, Shao Xuan’s eyebrows jerked upward.
He initially thought the shaman would reject him immediately, and Shao Xuan even prepared other means just in case. The Flaming Horns could provide them with many things. He thought that maybe the shaman would change his mind if they gave him some more things, but now, this person wasn’t reacting normally.
Shao Xuan didn’t press on but waited for the other party to consider.
After around two minutes, the Jing shaman asked, “I heard the Flaming Horns are very strong and have many things that most people don’t have?”
“What are you referring to?” Shao Xuan asked. Weapons? Food? Or what?
“Can you guys treat diseases or injuries?” The Jing shaman’s eyes no longer looked as harsh as before but were replaced with one of high expectation.
Shao Xuan’s heart skipped a beat. His face revealed no answer, but he asked, “It depends on what type of injury.”
“It’s a very severe case. He’s injured to the point that he can no longer walk.” The Jing shaman’s face was gloomy, as if he thought about something bad.
“I need to see him before I know if we can treat him. Without knowing how severe his sickness is, I cannot give you a firm answer,” Shao Xuan said.
“Alright! If you can cure him, I’ll give you an ‘eye’!”