They watched with stunned expressions as the monster scraped off all the meat on the bones and sucked out all of the bone marrow.
This monster’s appearance had changed, and he was very different compared to the first time Shao Xuan moved him here. The most obvious difference was that the monster no longer looked dry anymore. His skin resembled a normal human’s, and although he did not have any bulging muscles or looked strong, none of them dared to doubt his strength after seeing how effortlessly he broke the beast bones in half.
His skin was no longer green-grey in colour. It was greenish-white now, and it was still pale, resembling the dead. However, he was a little different from Yi Si’s half-beast slave. At least the slave looked like that since the beginning, but this monster gave them an unnerving feeling, as if he was seriously ill, but still quite dangerous.
After eating, the skin on the monster’s face became much softer in texture. Besides some dried traces and weird bluish-white faint marks on his face, he seemed almost like an ordinary person. At least he didn’t look like a corpse anymore. His movements were no longer rigid and stiff, and if he was breathing normally like other humans and had a heartbeat, he wouldn’t be much different from other humans.
After he ate, the monster looked with eyes full of gratitude at Shao Xuan, and became less vigilant towards Zheng Luo and the other Flaming Horn warrior.
Perhaps it was because his body had begun to recover. His voice was no longer as scratchy as before, but it still didn’t sound smooth. His tone was still strange, but at least they could guess what he was saying now.
“This is the Flaming Horn tribe,” Shao Xuan said.
“Flaming Horn...tribe?” the monster looked doubtful, as if this phrase brought back some long-forgotten memories. He looked like he was trying to remember but couldn’t.
“Who are you? Which tribe do you belong to?” Shao Xuan asked. Shao Xuan enunciated every word to ensure that this monster understood what he said.
“Who am...I?” the monster looked even more dazed now. He didn’t know what to say for a long while. He lowered his head and began to think hard.
“Then do you remember your tribe’s totemic sign? Totem, can you try drawing it?” Shao Xuan asked.
“Totem...Totem…” The monster repeated this phrase continuously. The more he said it, the clearer his pronunciation became. He lifted his head suddenly as a bright light flashed across his bloodshot eyes. “Totem!”
“Yes, yes. Totem. Do you remember?” Shao Xuan walked into the secret room and took out the paint from a wooden cabinet on the side. He added water to the paint and stirred. Stretching out a finger, he dipped it inside the paint and started to draw on a piece of linen fabric on the side. After a few strokes, a black marking appeared on the greyish-yellow linen.
At first, Shao Xuan thought about using a brush, but after he judged the monster, he thought this was probably more convenient for him.
The monster looked at Shao Xuan’s movements and he seemed to have understood what he meant. He extended his right thumb and dipped it into the paint. Many tribesmen liked to paint with their thumbs. This was an ancient habit that many of them had. This monster was no different. However, since he could not control his strength, he almost tipped over the small paint container. Luckily Shao Xuan was holding onto it from the other side.
After observing the dark liquid on his finger, the monster walked up to the stone table and scratched a few markings on the linen cloth. Somehow he felt like drawing on the linen cloth was too bothersome, so he began to draw directly on the stone table.
When he started to move his fingers, he moved it slightly and paused for a while, as if trying to recall a memory. Gradually, he began to draw with much smoother movements and at the end, he did not even hesitate when he finished his final stroke. It was finally complete.
Zheng Luo was so curious that he took a few steps forward and craned his neck to look. He didn’t dare to get too close because the monster still seemed a little vigilant towards him.
“This is...?” Zheng Luo asked as he looked at the drawing on the stone table.
The monster looked at Zheng Luo and made a sound. His tone was a little unclear and strange, so Shao Xuan couldn’t catch what he said.
The drawing on the table looked like a human with both his arms raised. The human was looking upwards, and right above that human was a circle. Judging by the way it was drawn, this circle was most likely a symbol of the sun.
This was the monster’s totemic sign. Even if a tribesman could not remember his tribe’s name, he could never forget his totemic sign, especially if they belonged to a tribe that still had a primitive fire seed.
It seemed as if this man could not remember anything else, but he completed this drawing of the totemic sign. After he finished drawing, he continued to stare blankly at his work.
Shao Xuan was positive he had never seen this totemic sign before, so he could not determine this person’s identity.
He turned around to look at Zheng Luo. He had the same puzzled expression. He had never seen such a sign too, but if this person drew it out even when he had forgotten his own name, it was very likely that this totemic sign really existed.
However, it was common for tribes to exist and go extinct. Perhaps this monster belonged to one of these extinct tribes.
“Was your tribe in the desert before?” Shao Xuan asked again.
“Desert?” the monster was not familiar with the word. He could not understand what Shao Xuan said at all.
Realizing this, Shao Xuan tried to describe what a desert looked like. “It almost never rains there, and there’s not much wood or plants. It’s all yellow sand.”
After he heard this, the monster nodded continuously, “Yes! It’s there!”
The monster knew that Shao Xuan belonged to a different tribe, but since Shao Xuan’s energy was somewhat similar to his own, he almost took Shao Xuan to be his own tribesmen. After he finished an entire beast limb, his body had recovered and his senses became keener. Now he could tell that Shao Xuan belonged to a different tribe, but he did not act at all defensive towards him.
The monster realised that Shao Xuan was related to his own waking up so he hurriedly asked, “I...tribe…go back…”
Shao Xuan only understood a few words in the monster’s sentence. “You want to go back?”
The monster nodded.
“But there are no more tribes in the desert,” Shao Xuan said.
The monster was taken aback. He shook his head and denied, “No! That’s impo...impossible!” But suddenly, it was as if he thought of something, but couldn’t recall the memory clearly. His face revealed a twisted expression as he knelt down suddenly with his head in his arms. He looked as if he was in deep pain. Blue veins surfaced to his greenish-white skin as he roared loudly like a fierce beast in the forest. This sound also resembled the noise they would hear in a cave whenever a breeze blew in. How uncommon!
Small bits of stone scraps and dust fell to the ground. The clay pot filled with water in one corner of the room cracked. Not much water was left inside, but most of the pottery exploded and clinked against the walls of the room.
The roar echoed in the hallways outside. Duo Kang and the others who were guarding at the stairway felt the chills go down their spines.
The insulation of the building was pretty well done, but even so, this sound could be heard from anywhere in the Flaming River Castle. Even some people outside who were close to the Flaming River Castle heard the muffled roar. They shivered unconsciously at the sound. It was as if a cold gust of wind blew right across their backs.
Where Yi Si lived, the spikes on the half-beast’s back also erected when he heard the roar. He glanced nervously in the Flaming River Castle’s direction.
Yi Si felt it too. “What happened over there?”
Within the Flaming River Castle, the people who heard the sound rushed over and saw Duo Kang and the others guarding there.
“Hunt Leader, who made that sound? Was that a human?” someone asked Duo Kang.
“How would I know?!” Duo Kang was anxious too. What was going on down there?! It’s making them all anxious!
Underground in the secret room, Shao Xuan and Zheng Luo’s heart rate suddenly sped up as their hands reached for the hilts of their blades. If this monster suddenly went wild, they could only kill him right away. No matter how curious they were about this man, their safety was priority.
However, this monster only squatted on the ground with his head in his arms. He howled in pain for a while, and his voice gradually weakened and finally stopped.
Shao Xuan waited. The person was no longer moving.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Shao Xuan asked.
He didn’t wait for a reply, and repeated his question again. Still, there was no response.
He could sense the irritation calming and subsiding within the monster. If they didn’t notice him squatting there, they wouldn’t have sensed a person there at all. He had no breath or heartbeat. Besides the slight breath of air that was present in his roar, it seemed as if he had no need for air. If he was locked in a sealed space without air, perhaps he could still stay alive on the inside.
Shao Xuan walked over with a blade in his hand. His other hand extended and patted on the shoulder of the person who squatted there.
The person immediately fell backwards. He remained in the same position as he fell, like a stone statue. His hands and legs seemed frozen and did not move one bit.
Zheng Luo wanted to ask if the person was dead, but thinking how this person was different from most others, he asked, “What happened to him?”
Shao Xuan shook his head. Judging by the pattern energy flowed within his body and all around him, it seemed like he was asleep.
“Maybe…...he fell asleep?” Shao Xuan guessed.
Zheng Luo looked at the person in a squatting posture. He was holding his head in his arms and was ready to fit inside an egg. He thought, ‘He’s so different! Even his sleeping posture is different!’
Shao Xuan looked at the drawing the monster drew on the stone table and he turned around. His eyes caught Zheng Luo’s, and as if in acquiescence, both of them walked out of the room gently.
“He looks like an ordinary person when he’s asleep. It seems like he won’t wake up anytime soon. You stay here with Duo Kang and the others. I need to go to the Rain tribe,” Shao Xuan whispered.
“The Rain tribe? To ask them about this monster?” Zheng Luo also knew that the Rain tribe lived on the edges of the desert before. He understood what Shao Xuan was planning.
“Well, I want to understand more about this person and where he came from. The people from Rock Hill City must have a reason or purpose for keeping them. This person said that their tribe is in the desert, but we know that since the slave masters arrived at the desert, there were no longer any tribes there. The Rain tribe lived so close to the desert, so perhaps there are some things that they know that we don’t.”
Zheng Luo nodded. “Okay, hurry and come back quickly. If this person wakes up, he won’t be polite to us at all. If we have no choice, we will have to kill him.”
“Yeah.” Shao Xuan knew that this person only had a different attitude towards himself. That was because he was brought back to life by Shao Xuan’s special energy. No, maybe this person was not even dead in the beginning. He was just preserved in another state. Shao Xuan’s energy was just a trigger that woke him up from that state.
Without saying more, Shao Xuan immediately left the Flaming River Castle and headed to the Rain tribe.
When Shao Xuan arrived at the Rain tribe, Yang Sui was smiling as he looked at a piece of linen in his hands. On the linen cloth was a written record of the plants they planted this year, as well as the handicrafts and information regarding the trading situation within the Flaming River trading point. They were already living under stable conditions and no longer had to worry about going hungry. The Flaming River Trading Point gave them hope and more choices. They could trade all sorts of goods there, including fabric, pottery, knitting tools, and much more. Even if the harvest was not bountiful that year, they wouldn’t go hungry. Sometimes if the Flaming Horns needed more people to help with labour, they would immediately send people over to help. Labour could be exchanged for food in the Flaming Horn tribe, and that piqued their interest.
As he read the information on his linen cloth, someone came to inform him that the Grand Elder of the Flaming Horn tribe, Shao Xuan, came to visit. Hearing this, he immediately set down the things in his hands and told them to invite him in. They did not dare to show off in front of their guest. They had to rely on the Flaming Horn tribe to survive, and with their strength, they were still no match for many other tribes and beasts around them.
“Grand Elder! How can we help you?” Yang Sui smiled.
Shao Xuan didn’t beat around the bush. He handed him a beast hide, “Do you recognise this?”
It was the totemic sign the monster drew. Shao Xuan drew a copy of the drawing on this beast hide.
“What is this?” Yang Sui asked as he unrolled the beast hide. His expression changed immediately. His smile was replaced with a serious look, and his eyes were sharp as daggers as he looked at Shao Xuan. He asked him in a deep voice, “How did you know about this?”
“You’ve seen this before?” Shao Xuan told him briefly about the monster and how he came back to life, but he did not mention how he brought him back to life.
Yang Sui’s fingers stiffened as he gripped tightly on the beast hide. His hands trembled and his complexion turned pale.
“They’re back? Are they really back?!” Yang Sui murmured. His eyes were filled with terror and panic. It was as if he fell into a cold icy dungeon and his blood froze in his veins.
“Who are they?” Shao Xuan asked again. Yang Sui looked as if his soul had left his body. “He doesn’t remember anything at the moment. The only thing he can remember is this totem. Most of them should be under the control of the people of Rock Hill City, and they’re being put aside like unused puppets.”
Yang Sui felt temporarily relieved when he heard this, but his fingers were still trembling and his face was still pale.
“The Han tribe! It’s the Han tribe!”
Shao Xuan had never heard of this tribe.
“Did they live in the desert before?” Shao Xuan asked.
Yang Sui twitched the corners of his mouth, as if forcing a smile, “No, they don’t live in the desert, but wherever they are, they bring the desert with them!”
Shao Xuan was stunned. “You mean, the desert exists because of the Han tribe?”
“You can say that,” Yang Sui took a deep breath and tried to suppress the mixed emotions in his heart.
“That monster is very strong, and I have no doubt that tribe was probably quite strong back then too, but why did they disappear?” Shao Xuan was doubtful. A tribe that was not powerful wouldn’t be targeted by the people of Rock Hill City.
Yang Sui laughed bitterly, “You only know that the Han tribe was strong, but did you know? The Rain tribe was a major tribe before too!”
Yang Sui told everyone in the house to leave and made sure no one else was around. After he came back, he filled a bowl with water and gulped it down slowly. After he calmed down, he continued, “I only found out about some of these things from my ancestor’s notes after becoming the shaman. There were some notes that all the previous chiefs and shamans knew about, but some of these handwritten notes were kept secret and only the shaman of the Rain tribe was allowed to read it. However, not every shaman can read it. Only those who have the strength and capability can open it and read what’s inside, and I’ve been very doubtful ever since I read it.”
Shao Xuan once told Yang Sui that fire seeds in their primitive form would only weaken. Even though they couldn’t notice a clear difference, if they compared it with the fire seed they had thousands of years ago, they would immediately notice the difference.
However, not many people could live that long. They were different from the beasts with unlimited lifespans. People with different strengths had different lifespans. At most, advanced totemic warriors could only live up to two to three hundred years.
Yang Sui could accept the fact that the Rain tribe’s fire seed was weakening. That was why they couldn’t succeed in praying for rain. However, something he still couldn’t figure out was why their fire seed weakened so quickly. The Rain tribe was not the only tribe with a long history. The Flaming Horns were not much different from them. The Flaming Horn tribe was also an ancient tribe, but they weren’t as weak as the Rain tribe was.
After analysing, the final reason lied within their fire seed.
If a fire seed was strong, the tribe was strong. A weak fire seed would mean a weak tribe.
The Rain tribe had survived for who knew how long beside the desert. They had long left the major to middle-sized tribes category. In the eyes of many people, they were a tribe that was destined to disappear from the surface of the earth.
“Fire seed!” Yang Sui raised his head and sighed. “Our fire seed is so much weaker than other fire seeds now because of the Han tribe!”
“You guys fought against the Han tribe before?” Shao Xuan asked.
“A very long time ago, we did. However, we lost at the very end.”
Yang Sui told Shao Xuan about what was recorded in the secret handwritten notes.
The desert was not like that in the past. It wasn’t much different from other places on the mainland. Although it didn’t rain there often and some parts were arid all year round, the desert was never as large as it was today.
The Han tribe settled in dry places all year round. In contrast, the Rain tribe lived in places with fertile soil, and there, their ancestors discovered special plants. After crushing the harvested fruits of this plant and mixing it with water, they would bake it into hard biscuits, which was convenient to store and could help them withstand hunger. At that time, the Rain tribe valued that piece of land very much and even thought about expanding their territory.
In order to make their crops grow better, they prayed for more rain and it rained more frequently. Naturally, the rain fell on a wider range and covered a bigger area than the farmland they owned.
The Han people did not like rain. They hated water, and since they could live longer in an arid environment, they preferred drought. They were like cacti in the desert. Their bodies were natural reservoirs and could last for more than a hundred days without a sip of water.
The Han tribesmen also wanted to expand their territory and make more arid land. Both of these tribes lived close to each other, but due to their expansion, they began to have conflicts with each other.
Very soon, the conflict intensified and the two tribes went to war. Tribesmen could fight to death for the sake of their territory. These two tribes had completely different preferences, so both of them were ready to either exterminate the other or drive them away from the territory.
This fight lasted for a long time. Yang Sui had no clue how long this lasted and there were no records in his ancestor’s notes about this. It only mentioned that at the very end, the shamans of both tribes met and fought using the power of their fire seeds.
According to the ancient records, the war between the two shamans changed the weather immensely. With a flick of their wrists, the winds and rains went against the course of nature, and a single stomp on the ground caused ten miles of ground to be covered with yellow desert sand.
In the end, the Rain tribe was defeated. The shaman of the Rain tribe took the remnants of their fire seed and the tribesmen who managed to survive and departed for a new home, which was where they were now, on the edge of the desert.
Because of that battle, the Rain tribe’s fire seed was severely damaged, and this was seemingly irreversible. Back then, the shaman of the Rain tribe burned himself in the fire pond due to self-reproach and regret. Since then, the Rain tribe’s fire seed had begun to weaken, like the ancient fire seeds of other tribes, but since their fire seed was damaged by the fight back then, they weakened at a faster pace than many others.
Yang Sui was also bitter when he learned the truth, but back then, he had not heard of any Han tribesmen who were still alive. Even though the desert had expanded to the land wherein they lived, the Han tribe seemed to have disappeared from the world. Perhaps it was due to some natural disasters or other reasons, but the Han tribe no longer appeared ever since the slave masters occupied the desert. No one knew where the Han tribe went.
Yang Sui thought their tribe finally managed to survive and the other party had disappeared. To them, survival was a kind of victory. The Rain tribe’s ancestors did not want anyone to know about their defeat and the cruel history back then, so Yang Sui also kept it secret too. Now, no one else in the Rain tribe knew about this part of their history.
Shao Xuan was amazed by the story Yang Sui narrated. It was indeed eye-opening.
So this desert resulted from the battle between these two tribes.
They were two strong ancient tribes, but after one of them was defeated, they retreated to a farther place. The damage done to their fire seeds made them a lot weaker than other tribes that had also begun to weaken at the same time. Now, they were so weak that they couldn’t even evoke a response from their prayers and successfully pray for rain.
The other tribe disappeared and no one knew what had happened to them. Shao Xuan only knew that that monster looked like an ancient corpse, and he had been in that state for a very long time. He just didn’t know if their disappearance was related to the slave masters.
Yang Sui didn’t know anything about that. If Shao Xuan wanted to know the reason, he could only ask that monster, and that’s on the premise that the monster could remember.