The Drumming Tribe lived close to the river. Today, the crocodiles lay flat on their bellies as they enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Suddenly, as if they had sensed something, the crocodiles panicked and either hurried to the shore or dived deep into the river. Those that came up to the shore fixed their emotionless eyes on the river.
The Flaming River was the widest river on this continent. Now, a long bamboo raft was floating down the river, and only two people were on it. All the extra space on the raft was used to put a variety of large shells. The people who lived in this area had never seen such shells. Nor had they ever seen such beautiful markings. Even the Drumming tribesmen, who frequently travelled by water, had never seen these before.
“Who are those people?” a Drumming woman who was washing her laundry by the river asked.
“I’m not sure. Maybe they came from downstream? They’re heading for the Flaming Horn tribe,” another person responded as he patted the bewildered crocodile beside him. He gazed watchfully at the river.
“Those people are not normal.”
“There’s people in the river too!”
The Drumming tribesmen could tell that there were many people underwater. They were all swimming beside the bamboo raft and the raft was closer to the other shore, so they couldn’t see the Drumming tribesmen couldn’t see them clearly.
Very soon, they noticed the Flaming Horn guards approaching them. Suddenly, a few figures burst up from underwater. White waves splashed up and trailed behind them.
“Oh my ancestors!” a person shouted in terror, “What was that?!”
“Was that… fish? No, it can’t be! Those are humans!”
The Drumming tribesmen inhaled deeply as they observed the situation on the other side of the river. They no longer cared to pat the frantic crocodiles. They rubbed their eyes and looked at each other.
“Did you guys see that just now? Those figures that burst up from the waters looked like fish, but when I looked again, they became humans and stood on the shore.”
“Me too! That’s exactly what I saw!”
The figures that shot up from underwater indeed seemed like fish, but they couldn’t tell what was going on. They clearly saw fishtails, but when those people reached the shore, they became normal humans. This made them very perplexed.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, the Flaming Horns were shocked at the sight of the Di Mountain tribesmen’s transformations. They had seen the Di Mountain child who looked like a mermaid before, so they weren’t as surprised as the others.
Dian Dian did not come over this time, but He Bian was still the leader of this team. There were also a few other familiar faces. The rest were all new faces.
When Shao Xuan arrived, the Di Mountain tribesmen had already been invited up to the hill. They carried large shells into the houses.
He Bian was talking with Gui He when Shao Xuan came, and as soon as he saw him, he immediately turned and greeted him with a grateful smile, “Grand Elder Shao Xuan!”
Shao Xuan looked surprised. He studied He Bian and the other Di Mountain tribesmen. Their energies were clearly different from the last time they came. They seemed more energetic and much stronger.
During the last time He Bian brought a very sick Dian Dian over, He Bian and the rest were actually also sick too. Their conditions were just not obvious. Now, they were all cured. The reason for their illness was their fire seed being engulfed and this recovery meant that they succeeded in defending their fire seed.
“Congratulations,” said Shao Xuan.
“It’s all thanks to you, Grand Elder,” He Bian replied. He also motioned for the other Di Mountain tribesmen to come express their thanks to Shao Xuan.
Shao Xuan’s eyes swept the scene and asked, “Where’s Dian Dian?”
“She’s already the Di Mountain tribe’s shamaness. The bloody battle had just ended, so there are still some matters for her to settle in the tribe.”
He Bian told Shao Xuan a detailed narration of what happened since they went back. Gui He pursed his lips. When He Bian talked to him, he didn’t even bother to mention these details, and he also appeared a little uninterested. But now, he was telling Shao Xuan everything! He even told him about the changes that had happened to their fire seed.
Didn’t he say that he mustn't elaborate on matters related to the fire seed due to privacy issues? Was that all a joke?!
But Gui He understood their background and why they thought this way. These people respected and valued the shamans much more than chiefs. In their eyes, Shao Xuan was no different from the shaman, and chiefs and whatnots were all lower in ranking. The Di Mountain tribe was after all a tribe that functioned under the authority of the shaman, and plus, Shao Xuan really helped them a lot in their case. They said they were delivering gifts for the Flaming Horn tribe, but more specifically, these gifts were meant for Shao Xuan.
Regardless, the Di Mountain tribe’s transformation was really shocking. After they received advice from Shao Xuan and understood how to merge their fire seed, they immediately went home and swallowed the part of the fire seed that belonged to the Di fish. Of course, there were more complications in this matter, and it was much more brutal than it sounded. This challenged a belief that all Di Mountain tribesmen believed in and revolutionized their way of thinking. Of course it wasn’t easy. Amidst their battle for life and death, many were probably influenced by the mood of the majority and went to war with mixed emotions. After the war had ended, some of these people began to have doubts again, so that was why Dian Dian was busy. As the shamaness, she had to stay with the tribesmen to calm them down and resolve their doubts.
Shao Xuan observed the Di Mountain tribesmen around him as he listened to He Bian’s narration of their brutal fight with the Di fish.
Whenever He Bian mentioned Dian Dian’s name, these people were all respectful at the sound of the name. Apparently the previous shaman could not withstand the battle and the matter about the fire seed was only solved after Dian Dian became the shamaness.
“Are your situations similar to Dian Dian’s? Can each of you transform into half-fish mermen now?” Shao Xuan asked.
“This is actually no different from summoning the totemic power. If we can activate our totemic power, we can transform into mermen. These two powers are linked,” He Bian explained.
Shao Xuan understood what he meant because the Di Mountain tribe had completely swallowed the Di fish’s fire seed. Now, the two fire seeds were one. When they activate their totemic power, it would summon the energies from both fire seeds at the same time.
“How was the merging process?” Shao Xuan inquired.
“Although it was very difficult, we succeeded at the very end. We thought it would last for a long time, and Dian Dian had already prepared for a long battle, but she never thought it could be solved in such a short time,” as he said this, He Bian glanced over at Shao Xuan. Back then, Dian Dian’s transformation only lasted a night, and the swallowing process of the fire seed was very similar to the changes within Dian Dian’s body. After the fire seed’s problem had been solved, Dian Dian even mentioned that she was able to swallow the Di fish’s fire seed so fast because Shao Xuan was there.
As he recalled what Dian Dian said, He Bian’s eyes prickled with an even greater respect.
“Actually, different people experience different transformations. The stronger you are, the more fishy you become,” as he said this, He Bian began to transform.
After his transformation, his entire body was wrapped with a thick layer of fish scales. His arms bulged and web appeared between his fingers. Sharp claws appeared where his nails were, and his feet were now a tail. His whole figure suddenly became a lot wider and longer than his human form.
He Bian was wearing a different outfit compared to last time. It was much simpler and his lower half was covered by a fish-skin skirt. The material of this skirt was different from the type they used last time. The scales were so huge and some of them were dark-green in colour. This time, it seemed like all of the Di Mountain tribesmen were wearing this material.
“This fish skin is?” Shao Xuan asked.
“The Di fish.”
They even skinned these fish. This was enough to show how much they hated the Di fish.
However, the Di fish’s scales suited them better. It was more flexible and comfortable to swim in.
He Bian told Shao Xuan about the gifts they brought this time. He had said before that if they succeeded in merging their fire seed, they would immediately come upstream to visit again with thank you gifts.
The Di Mountain tribe rarely used wooden boxes. They preferred using natural materials that were slightly processed, such as the giant shells used to store these gifts this time.
There were ten giant shells in total. Three of them had pearls and precious jewelry, three carried all sorts of sea shells, and four other ones carried food.
“Salted fish?” Shao XUan looked at the dried fish inside the seashell. He picked one up to take a closer look.
“These are all small fish and we eat these often. These are some of the more delicious ones,” He Bian scratched his head, “Initially we wanted to bring some bigger sea beasts, but the journey was too long and it was not as convenient. However, if you guys ever come to the Di Mountain tribe, just let us know how much you can eat, and we’ll catch them for you!”
Ocean fish was good too. Most people here ate freshwater fish and not many had tried ocean fish.
“Oh right, there’s something else I need to tell you,” He Bian said sternly. “When we came over, some strange people approached us and wanted to rob us. We couldn’t understand what they said, so we just killed them.”
He Bian took out a golden tablet that had carvings on it. He couldn’t recognize these words.
Shao Xuan took the golden tablet and studied it. He Bian couldn’t understand these words, but he did. These belonged to the other side of the sea.
Looks like more people have arrived in the Flaming River region.