Shao Xuan knew the Jing shaman and his son definitely saw something. They just didn’t want to tell him about it.
Very soon it was full moon again, and there was barely any difference between day and night. Even during the nighttime, it would still be as bright as day due to the moonlight.
The switch between day and night, sun and moon, anything that was related to the sun and moon experienced a change on this day. Just like how the Drumming tribe would harvest their water moon stones on this day, the Jing people were also unusually busy today, because the ground eyes would be especially active today. Some might even float to the surface of the quagmires.
The Jing people were already waiting beside the quagmire with their tightly knitted nets. Some were holding water scoops made from beast horn or bones.
At first they just guarded beside the quagmire with their long stick tools. If they noticed any ground eyes appear, they would make a move. The people who were fast enough could instantly scoop up a ground eye that appeared on the surface. Today was the only day they could catch ground eyes so swiftly.
Shao Xuan saw a Jing warrior shout in excitement after scooping up a ground eye. He set the thing inside his scoop to a place farther away from the quagmire. A spindle-shaped object fell from his scoop along with the muddy water. The muddy water splashed all around as the object spun, revealing its true colour, a dark grey shell. It was a ground eye.
Seeing the creature trying to drill into the ground, the Jing warrior who scooped it up stabbed it with a bone knife and set it aside. Then he smashed it with a rock.
Their attacks were all on point. The rock hit the ground eye on its corner, not the middle. If they didn’t use the right amount of force, the ground eye might fly away under the impact, but if they used the right amount of force, then the spinning creature would be smashed to death immediately, and it would also stop spinning. Then only could they be sure that the ground eye had lost its ability to move, and only after could they set it aside first or open it up.
Shao Xuan observed the person as he opened up the ground eye that he hunted. Although its shell was grey and covered with mud on the outside, the meat inside was white.
Peeling away the meat, the round object in the middle of its body was revealed. The ground eye stone.
Shao Xuan couldn’t see the quality of the ground eye stone inside that ground eye the person just opened up because too many people were crowding there, but he could tell from hearing the crowd chatter that it was a ground eye stone of decent quality.
Every year on this day, the people who were able to catch the ground eyes with the most supreme quality would be listed in the historical records of the Jing tribe. The shaman of that time would keep it in handwritten records and pass it down to the next generation.
This kind of honour was what every Jing person desired. To the Jing people, this was a remarkable victory. Not only could their names be written in the historical records, their ranking in the tribe would also be promoted. No wonder the Jing people were so excited.
The others couldn’t wait to start hunting after they saw the person who first caught a ground eye. All around the external quagmire, many Jing people ran about. Children who didn’t yet have the ability to catch the ground eyes stood around to watch the excitement. They would run over to a place whenever they heard someone catch a ground eye, and discuss who was going to win first place this year.
Inside the Jing shaman’s house, the shaman was discussing capturing ground eyes on the night of the full moon with his son.
Miu could already walk under the assistance of another person, but he still couldn’t walk far or very long. An adequate amount of exercise could alleviate the pain he suffered as a consequence of his sickness the past year, but he couldn’t overdo it. If he rushed his recovery, he could easily cause damage to his body again. Then, not only would he recover slower, he might even increase the burden that his body had to take even before he recovered.
After the Jing shaman helped Miu walk around the house for a few rounds, they sat down to rest.
“If you didn’t get injured last year, you’ll probably get first place by now,” the Jing shaman remarked remorsefully.
Miu didn’t think it was anything worth regretting. “It doesn’t matter. I can get it next year. It’ll only be a year later.”
“That’s true. You being able to recover is already the luckiest thing that happened.”
“Right, dad, are you really planning to help the Flaming Horn person find the True Eye tonight?” Miu asked.
“Of course. It would be best if I can find it tonight. If not I reckon I have to wait another year. The chances are low if we search for it any other time of the year. Don’t worry, if we can’t find it this year, he won’t blame me,” the Jing shaman comforted him.
Miu’s eyebrows did not relax at all after hearing his dad’s words. “Dad, who was behind that person? Was it the Flaming Horn’s ancestor?”
“...... might be.”
“People who had the protection of their ancestors were always especially lucky. Who knows? We might actually find the True Eye this year. Speaking of which, when I saw that, I was so shocked that my eye almost opened.” Miu was still a little fearful recalling the incident. “My eye stung, it hadn’t recovered completely yet.”
Hearing this, the Jing shaman was suddenly anxious. “Your eye is hurt? Let me see!”
Totem marks appeared across Miu’s body. He had not fully recovered, so when he summoned his totemic energy, he was careful in controlling it so that it was only circulating through his body above his torso. Dark green veins surfaced on his skin, intertwined with his totemic marks, and it looked horrifying. At the same time, a slit appeared in between Miu’s eyebrows. It was just like when the Jing shaman opened his eye to help Shao Xuan search for the True Eye. The eye between Miu’s brows also opened.
Besides the Jing shaman, no one else in the Jing tribe knew that Miu had the third eye. His third eye only appeared the year when he awakened his totemic energy. Back then, the shaman was also shocked, but after investigating him, he analysed that Miu probably grew a third eye because he ate a ground eye without any ground eye stones in it before he awakened to his totemic power.
Miu caught the ground eye by himself with a net, although it was just a small one. It was also on the day of the full moon, and after Miu caught this ground eye, he also caught many people’s attention. Everyone assumed that a Universal Eye was inside that ground eye, but when they opened it up, there was nothing inside it at all, not even the most normal type of ground eye stone.
Not long after, when Miu awakened to his totemic energy, a third eye appeared in the middle of this forehead.
The Jing shaman guessed that perhaps the one that Miu ate actually had a ground eye stone in it, but it was more special. It was hidden and couldn’t be touched or seen. Just like the third eye on Miu’s body. There wouldn’t even be a trace left on his forehead if he didn’t voluntarily open this eye. So he usually looked the same as everyone else in the Jing tribe.
The Jing shaman already had plans for Miu to take over his position when he grew older. He wanted to let Miu catch a True Eye to put up a show for everyone, and then let everyone know that he had the third eye then. Who would’ve expected a disaster to hit the previous year! Miu almost died in that disaster, and the Jing shaman thought he had lost all hope back then.
“Let’s put in more effort this year and catch some ground eyes. Even if we can’t find any True Eyes, at least catch a few more Universal Eyes and give it to them as “thank you” gifts.” The Jing shaman intended to build a lasting friendship with Shao Xuan, not because of the Flaming Horn tribe, but because of the blurry figure who stood behind Shao Xuan.
The Jing shaman looked at Miu’s third eye closely and didn’t notice anything odd.
“Try rotating your eyeball or look at something outside. Can you see anything?” the Jing shaman asked.
“Yes.” Miu could see through the wooden house and look below the wooden boards underground. He could see blurry figures inside the quagmire. Those were all ground eyes. He could even see far beyond the house, in the external quagmire. People in the Jing tribe were busy working, while the Flaming Horns stood beside to watch them.
Shao Xuan was just watching someone cut open a ground eye, but he turned his head and looked in Miu’s direction.
“What’s wrong?” Tuo asked from his side.
“Nothing.” Shao Xuan withdrew his gaze. He turned his head back to watch the person cut open the ground eye. It was another ground eye stone of decent quality.
Meanwhile, inside the Jing shaman’s house, Miu shut both his eyes tightly and covered his third eye with both hands. He was terrified. “He saw me!”
“You saw Shao Xuan? Didn’t I warn you not to test him?” Although the Jing shaman sounded like he was reprimanding him, he was also worried. He hurriedly looked again at Miu’s eye. He only calmed down after confirming that it was only slightly hurting without any other conditions.
That night, the sun had disappeared but the sky was still bright as day. The silver moonlight shone down on Mother Earth, making it as bright as day. High up in the sky, a giant round moon hung distantly.
As the two moons merged, the Jing people who were guarding on the side started walking into the quagmire.
The external quagmire was not deep. Most of the adult Jing people walked in, and their necks were still above the quagmire, so they could still breathe. They had already planned all this before digging the quagmire.
There were more active ground eyes now. Shao Xuan even heard a Jing person say that ground eyes were coming from other places and entering their quagmire. Only after the full moon had passed would they finally leave the quagmire. So that was why they had to seize this opportunity and catch more groundeyes.
The net that they threw out came from the Gu tribe. It was sturdier and was customised to hunt ground eyes. Its gaps were smaller and this type of net had smaller nets within it. The more the prey stuck to it, the tighter it would get. Only a powerful force could break free from this net, or else they would be stuck on the net.
They needed a lot of strength to pull the nets out from the quagmire. Sometimes a five metre wide net needed more than ten people to pull it out. The Flaming Horns also became nervous and excited when they saw this, so even though the Jing people rejected their help, they went in to catch the ground eyes themselves.
Shao Xuan didn’t stay to watch the excitement in the external quagmire. Instead, he went over to teh centre quagmire.
Ripples continued to appear on the surface. Something was actively moving underneath.
Shao Xuan heard some noises, like someone was rapidly blowing bubbles into a cup of water through a thin straw.
“These sounds are made by Universal Eyes. This is the only day they would make this noise.”
Knowing that there were Universal Eyes under the quagmire, the Jing shaman could finally be at ease. Now, even if they couldn’t find any True Eyes, at least they could catch some Universal Eyes.
The Jing shaman removed his jacket and tied a few knots around his had with the grass rope. Then he walked into the quagmire.
The centre quagmire was a lot deeper than the external quagmire. A person who walked in would literally sink in, but luckily they built a stone staircase underneath, so just in case if the person couldn’t breathe and needed to take a breath of air, he could return to the surface under the guidance of these stone stairs. Ordinary people couldn’t see where the stairs were underneath, and they could only estimate its location, but after entering the quagmire, they would be in total darkness and lose their sense of direction, so it was a lot harder if they wanted to look for the stairs then.
In the Jing tribe, the only person who could accurately find the stone staircase was the shaman. Shamans were the only ones with eyes that could see through muddy water.