Shao Xuan wrote down everything the shaman told him to take note of on his animal skin scroll. Merging an eye could not be compared to any other task. He had to take note of every detail.
The Jing shaman was also very patient. He told him whatever he needed to know. If something was related to any of the Jing tribe’s secrets, he tried to be as implicit as he could.
Shao Xuan knew long ago that the Jing shaman was different from the others in the Jing tribe. He did not think as traditionally as the other Jing people. His intentions were purely for the sake of the Jing tribe. He could use this information to trade for more things from Shao Xuan.
Looking out the window, it was unusually exciting around the centre quagmire. Many people surrounded and watched the people hunt the ground eyes. Even though there were only ten people who went down, many others helped from the side. There were also others who were cheering and watching the excitement. About more than half of their tribe was gathered here. Some Ya people even came to watch, not to mention Duo Li and the others, who were also watching from the side.
Tonight the people who went under the quagmire gained a lot of ground eyes. They didn’t have the shaman’s third eye, or Shao Xuan’s special vision, so they could only use nets or follow their intuition. Even without the third eye, they could still feel some things under the quagmire.
“Wow, it’s a Universal Eye!” a person shouted amidst the crowd.
“Who? Who caught the Universal Eye?” the people who were crowding in other places rushed over to look.
Not too long after, someone else shouted from another side of the quagmire, “Another one!”
“What?! Who caught it this time?” The crowd rushed over again.
“There are already thirty of them. Haha, let’s see who can beat my record today!” a Jing warrior who came up to catch a breath laughed as he spoke. It hadn’t even been that long, but he already caught so many. How many would he have by the end of the night? As he thought about this, he couldn’t stop giggling.
“I don’t know why, but the ground eyes in the quagmire are so easy to catch today. Many of them aren’t even moving,” someone said.
Hearing this, the Jing shaman’s face instinctively jerked upwards. Many of these ground eyes couldn’t move. They were probably shocked by the event that had happened. Shao Xuan’s smashing of the quagmire shocked many of the ground eyes. Even if they didn’t die from the shock, some of them were left unconscious. They probably wouldn’t be able to recover tonight.
The people who went under the quagmire should be thanking Shao Xuan for what he did. They were so lucky and caught so many ground eyes because of him.
The Jing shaman shook his head helplessly as he smiled. This bunch of kids probably hadn’t had such a lucky event happen to them for way too long. All of them were so happy.
“You really don’t want to trade your ground eye stones?” Shao Xuan asked.
The Jing tribe had a lot of stock in their hands. Even though they didn’t gain much every year, they saved a lot from previous generations. The amount they had was enough to shock a lot of people, but they still want to keep treasuring it?
“I have to see what the others think.” The Jing shaman decided not to express his opinion. Even though his values were different from others, he didn’t want to ignore other people’s values, but if one day his people were willing to take their savings out to trade, he wouldn’t stop them.
Shao Xuan rolled up the beast hide scroll with the important notes. After some thought, he asked again. “I have another question.”
“Please ask.” The Jing shaman thought Shao Xuan had another question about the merging of the True Eye.
Shao Xuan looked at the Jing shaman. “What did you see on me?”
The Jing shaman stopped fiddling with the ground eye stone in his hands. He never expected Shao Xuan to ask this question. So he found out after all.
After some thought, the Jing shaman answered, “A figure. I saw a figure behind you.”
The Jing shaman didn’t plan on telling Shao Xuan this. The Jing tribe’s ancestors had once warned them to not tell others what they couldn’t see. It could cause a lot of trouble. Legend had it that a long time ago, the Jing tribe’s shaman had been through some tough problems after telling someone something they couldn’t see. That was why the Jing shaman stopped Miu when he noticed the strange figure behind Shao Xuan. He was afraid of the trouble he might cause.
However, Shao Xuan was voluntarily asking, so even if he didn’t want to tell him, he couldn’t lie. The Jing shaman was also sure that Shao Xuan wouldn’t cause any problems after knowing this.
Even if Shao Xuan was mentally prepared, he was still stunned by this answer. “What does he look like?”
The Jing shaman shook his head. “I don’t know. I only see a blurry figure. I don’t know what he looks like, but I reckon he’s one of your ancestors.”
Was it really a Flaming Horn ancestor? Shao Xuan was shocked. He had given this excuse to the Gu shaman, but he was only using his ancestor’s name to evade the question, but after he heard what the Jing shaman said, had he actually gotten it right?
But what was his ancestor doing behind him? Who was it? There were too many ancestors in the Flaming Horn history. As he thought about the bone ornament necklace he was wearing, he speculated it to be the first shaman.
After a moment of silence, Shao Xuan shook his head. He didn’t want to guess anymore. He wanted to wait longer for other clues.
Shao Xuan gave the Jing shaman a palm-sized token made from green bronze. A Flaming Horn totem was carved into it. On the other side was a single character, “Xuan”.
In the Flaming Horn tribe, besides the current chief and shaman, only Shao Xuan, the Grand Elder, possessed a token like this.
If the Jing people decided to go trade in the future, they could bring this token to the Flaming River Trading Point. With this token, they would receive better hospitality and there would be people protecting them.
It was almost sunrise when they finished discussing.
A lot of mud splashed onto the ground beside the quagmire when Shao Xuan hammered on the quagmire. With the Jing people pulling their nets across from here to there, more mud was dragged onto the surface.
As Shao Xuan walked away from the Jing shaman’s living headquarters, more mud tracks appeared across the Jing tribe. Not the ones that were close to the quagmire, but the tracks left by people who were running around. Some of the Jing people were rolling on the ground. They heard that they wouldn’t be bitten by insects if they did so.
Not a lot of wild grass grew inside the Jing tribe’s territory. This was probably because of the mud that was brought ashore. The ground eyes loved this mud, but strangely, it had always suppressed the growth of plants.
The Jing tribe was a very special tribe. They were not strong, but they could live peacefully and fulfill their needs inside their small world. Even though they were given the chance to trade for more resources, they still preferred to hold on to their precious ground eye stones.
Even though the giant river had disappeared, both shores were quite far apart from each other in this part of the Flaming River region. Compared to the Gu tribe’s territory, this part of the river was obviously wider. Perhaps the river would continue to widen the further they went downstream, and the wider it was, the harder it was for fearsome beasts to travel across from a shore to the other, but that didn’t mean that it was completely safe. There were still fearsome beasts that could swim and those that could fly, so they still had to be careful.
When Shao Xuan left, he also reminded the Jing shaman about these problems, but the Jing shaman already had plans to widen their quagmires and expand their territory after this full moon. Not only did they want to widen it, but they also wanted to make it deeper. They would also ask the Ya people to come help them dig a few escape holes that went underground.
The shaman’s third eye didn’t only see what ordinary people couldn’t see, but it could also see the future. If there was indeed a disaster, he would make preparations beforehand.
Just as Shao Xuan said before, smaller tribes with weak battling strength had their ways to survive.
As the sun replaced the moon and shone upon the ground, Shao Xuan was also prepared to return with his team. He learned more about what was downstream by talking with Di Pi and Di Pa, the two brothers. Although they didn’t know much, they still knew what tribes were living downstream.
Shao Xuan gifted them some beast hide and horn and bone tools. These were in exchange for the information.
“If you ever need to know anything in the future, just look for us, the Ya tribe. We travel to many places,” Di Pi emerged from the ground and said to Shao Xuan’s group after he transported Shao Xuan’s gifts underground.
The Ya people dug underground tunnels whenever they were bored. Through these tunnels they could travel to different tribes and gossip about different topics. Although what they said usually had parts that were exaggerated or imagined, some of the information was still useful. At least it helped Shao Xuan complete quite a few parts of his map of the Flaming River region.
Before he left, Shao Xuan also gifted the shaman some beast hide to express his gratitude for the final question he answered.
When they left, the Jing shaman brought his people to send them off at the shore. They put up a stone plate of the “Flaming River” on the shore. From now on, the Jing people also knew what this river was called. They even knew that if they went upstream on this river, they could find the Flaming Horn tribe.
What kind of tribe was the Flaming Horns? The Jing people’s impression was: they had ships that were much bigger than houses, sharp weapons, thick beast hides, and powerful strength. They were not at all fierce, not at all similar to what the Ya people’s rumours said, even though sometimes they can be quite scary.
Bading goodbye to the Jing tribe, Shao Xuan broguht the map that he finished and went back upstream.
His journey downstream was shorter than he had expected, but he gained quite a lot. The most important thing he gained was the True Eye. He was ready to give Caesar a new eye.
The time they spent travelling upstream was a lot faster than when they travelled downstream. They didn’t need to stop by once in a while to put up signs, and the river was flowing in a different direction after the full moon. Even though the great river had disappeared, the same occurences were still happening. For example, the river flowed faster downstream before the full moon. Even though the water level didn’t decrease by a lot, upon closer inspection, it was clear that there was a change.
After the full moon, the river changed its direction of flow, so it was more convenient for their travel back to their tribe.
On the way they even went out to look at the Gu tribe. They had already rebuilt their buildings. They recovered quite well.
Before Shao Xuan’s group reached their tribe, they even met the crocodiles of the Drumming tribe that were preparing to leave as a group before the monsoons came. Even without the great river, they were still used to their old habits, except they were travelling a little slower on their way back.
“The Drumming tribe has a lot of new water moon stones,” Shao Xuan said as he watched the crocodiles swim upstream in the river. He even saw the familiar crocodile, “Mute”, and he threw some freshly hunted beast meat to them.
Even if many of the crocodiles were not fearsome beasts, there were a lot of them, so they were considered quite powerful amongst the wild beasts. They probably wouldn’t experience any major problems if they swam as a group like this.
The group of crocodiles travelled faster than their ships. They arrived at the Drumming tribe three days before Shao Xuan’s group reached.
Nothing much happened in their tribe during the time Shao Xuan’s group left. The Flaming River Trading Point was the same too. At least this was what it looked like.
After he returned, he went up the mountain. The first thing he had to do was help Caesar merge with his new eye.
He had not seen him for a while, and more injuries appeared on his body. Everyone was already used to this by now.
Shao Xuan brought out the bamboo case that the Jing shaman used to encase the true eye. He shook the case in front of Caesar. “Let’s give it a try.”