Chapter 22 – The flame doesn’t harm anyone
Translated by Sunyancai
Shao Xuan’s first reaction towards Tu’s words was rejection. Even if he had been staring at the fire pit, and didn’t care about the coming flames, it didn’t mean he wouldn’t notice the pain of fire burning him.
What’s do you mean “You are burning”?
How could you not feel anything if you were burning?
Just to be safe, Shao Xuan watched the sparks and flames come closer, and only shifted his attention after he made sure it was harmless. What’s more, all the surrounding people were just fine, and even those kids standing right beside the flame pond were totally okay. And now you bloody told me that I’m on fire?
However, even if Shao Xuan did not believe it at heart, but judging from the looks of the kids around him, there really must be something wrong.
He checked his hands, all clear, and there were no visible flames on his legs as well.
“Ah-Xuan… your head… on your head…”
Shao Xuan hesitated, and finally he raised his arm to touch his head.
It felt no different. Nothing abnormal.
On a second try, there was still no abnormal feeling.
His hair was intact, and no smell of burning could be smelt. However, when he looked up…
What the fuck?!
When Shao Xuan finally saw the fire on his head, it had already grown big. At first, there was only a small flame on his head, but now he was basically wearing a bonfire as a giant hat. Also, with more and more flames and sparks flying towards him, the flame on his head grew bigger and bigger, with a downwards spreading trend.
Shao Xuan could clearly feel the fire on his head, and he could also see his bangs being wrapped in flame. However, he felt no pain, and when he touched it with his hand, he felt nothing abnormal.
It was useless when he took off his clothes and tapped them on his head. The flame kept spreading downwards and the flying flames and sparks directly melted into Shao Xuan’s arms, legs and torso, with no obvious sign of moving to the head.
But, aside from the panic caused by the suddenness in the beginning, Shao Xuan quickly calmed himself down.
This was not the world he knew well, and nothing could be deduced with his original logic and theories.
Since the flame was from the fire pit, and he felt no pain of burning, Shao Xuan stopped using his clothes to put out the fire, and instead, he stood there, trying to think about what he should do next.
The people standing in front of Shao Xuan did not notice his condition, as their attention was totally fixed on the fire pit. However, it was a completely different case for the people standing behind Shao Xuan. Especially some elderly, who had attended many Snow Festivals, yet no one had ever witnessed such circumstances as Shao Xuan was experiencing now.
At the meantime, the Shaman who was singing by the fire pit also had a minor pause in his singing that no one would notice unless one paid extra attention. After that slight pause, he continued to host the ceremony. He could definitely not leave now, he had to stay right where he was. The ceremony by the fire pit was only finished by two thirds, and the remaining one third of the ceremony was the most important part.
Perhaps to most of the warriors in the tribe, the second Flame was the most remarkable and conspicuous part among the three Flames of the fire pit. Because during the second Flame, a group of new totemic warriors would appear. All hunting teams which had lost some warriors, focused their attention, waiting to recruit some of the kids there once they turned into totemic warriors.
But to the Shaman himself, totemic warriors’ quantity was only a minor aspect. He wished to see the condition of the final Flame.
However, even if he could not leave, the Shaman would not ignore the things happening in there. So as the Shaman kept singing, he winked at Chief Ao’s direction.
Chief Ao standing there, had already noticed the abnormal circumstances at Shao Xuan’s direction, and was hesitating about whether to go there or not. After all, the Shaman knew better about rituals than him, and moving without the Shaman’s permission during a ritual could bring disastrous consequences upon the ceremony. Being the chief of the tribe, naturally he had to consider the big picture and put the tribe’s best interest ahead, instead of a single person or some group of people’s benefit.
Receiving the Shaman’s wink, the Chief hinted others to continue, while he moved his body towards the spot where the abnormal things were happening.
Most of the people were gazing at the fire pit, and since the Chief’s movement was so fast, not many people had realized what had happened.
Shao Xuan was just hesitating on whether to let the flame grow bigger, or shout out for help.
Without doubt, Shao Xuan cherished his life. If it was not the fact that he felt no actual harm, he would have shouted out for help already. However, firstly, the flame did not burn him or bring him actual pain; secondly, it was after all the annually most important ceremony of the tribe. Even those arrogant warriors suppressed their arrogance and behaved like civilized people, how could he take the hatred from everyone when his shouting sabotaged the great ritual? This was the only tribe in this area, and being all alone in this world, he could not afford to be hated and abandoned.
As he was thinking, he felt a shadow in front of him.
Shao Xuan looked up, and just saw the Chief’s curious eyes.
There were so many people on the mountaintop. Shao Xuan had heard no steps or people moving to clear a path, yet the Chief silently appeared in front of him! He was just beside the fire pit!
The surrounding kids were rather nervous and their attention had long since moved away from the fire pit. They could not awaken their totemic powers anyway this year, so Shao Xuan’s accident right under their noses certainly seemed to be more attractive. Now since the Chief had come, obviously Shao Xuan was in a great trouble, as far as they were concerned.
Ge noticed the situation and before he could say anything, he was stopped by Ao. Ao raised his hand to show that others shouldn’t be distracted by them.
The surrounding people hurriedly focused their concentration and looked at the fire pit again. In their hearts they prayed that the coming year would promise more game and everything would go smoothly.
Among them, surely there were some with less concentration, those would constantly glimpse at Shao Xuan’s direction with irrepressible curiosity.
Ao looked at the kid in front of him, filled with curiosity as well.
Is he awakening his totemic power?
That kid was absolutely less than eleven years old, and compared with the kids around the fire pit, he appeared to be much weaker. During the pre-selection, he had seen every kid brought from the mountain foot district, yet he had no memory of this little kid.
Apparently this was also the Chief’s first time in meeting up with such circumstances. However, since the Shaman had given an order, all he had to do was to take the kid to the Shaman.
“Don’t be afraid, for the flame doesn’t harm anyone.” Ao comforted Shao Xuan in a low voice, and then lifted him up by the animal skin clothes he was wearing.
Earlier Shao Xuan was thinking with his head bowed so he did not notice how the Chief got here from the fire pit. But now he knew.
Ao jumped up directly and stepped on the shoulders of the audience. He seemed tall and strong, but the movements of his were quite lissome. He lifted Shao Xuan, yet he acted as if he and Shao Xuan were as light as a feather as he jumped over the people in the tribe. Before Shao Xuan could catch his breath, they had arrived and landed by the fire pit.
Ao told Shao Xuan to stand among the other kids, and then stepped backwards to his original spot.
Adding another kid by the fire pit naturally drew the attention of the people who were staring at the fire pit all the time. Some tried to whisper a thing or two with the one standing beside them, but a look from Ao, quickly straightened them out.
Some young warriors dancing the ritual dance almost missed a step because of distraction. But they quickly cursed in their heart, focused their mind again, and carefully continued to do the ritual dance.
However, many people could not fight the curiosity they had in their hearts. Is the kid added to the group also awakening his totemic power? Why was he not chosen during the pre-selection?
Too young at age?
People did not question the Shaman’s ability, so they guessed the fault was with the age. Aside from age, perhaps someone made a mistake when he went down to the mountain to do the preparations.
What on earth happened? And why was the kid wearing a ball of fire on his head?
Just as people were wondering, Ao looked away from the fire pit as he returned to his spot. He looked down to his hand that held Shao Xuan earlier.
That vigorous big hand that had killed countless game, had been burnt red.
What was he telling that kid again? The flame doesn’t harm anyone??