Chapter 27 – One day we will host a Potlatch
Translated by Sunyancai
Even before Shao Xuan went down the mountain, people in the mountain foot district were already discussing Shao Xuan’s awakening. No one expected that this young, weak little kid from the orphan cave would be able to awaken his totemic power yesterday!
Since he awakened his totemic power at such a young age, people assumed him to be full of potential and that perhaps, he would turn into a strong totemic warrior.
Also, people were wondering why Shao Xuan had awakened his totemic power so early. Some said that it was because Shao Xuan went out to exercise every morning, just like kids up in the mountain, that he could awaken his totemic power so early.
There were also some people that speculated it was because of the fish, because no other such thing had ever happened in the mountain foot district, so why now had Shao Xuan existed as an exception? However, that theory got refuted as soon as it appeared. Their own kids had eaten plenty of fish since they began fishing themselves, and some of them were one year older than Shao Xuan. If fish were the reason for his awakening, then why didn’t they awaken their totemic power?
So, in the end, people boiled down the reason of Shao Xuan’s early awakening to the fact that he went out to practice and exercise every morning. More and more people were convinced of that as time went by.
Hence, when Shao Xuan finally came down the mountain, he noticed that most of the kids who used to sleep all day, were now being woken up by their parents and had to go out to help move stones or go fishing with them.
Shao Xuan only knew why after he asked someone. Surely, working was also one kind of practice and exercise.
Shao Xuan did not argue with the early-practicing theory, as of course he wouldn’t share the real reason with them.
Children in the cave did not go out fishing today. With Shao Xuan’s absence, Caesar refused to work and dig up stone worms anymore. Even if they had the fishing tools, they could not capture any fish without the bait. There were too many people in the gravel yard, so the kids couldn’t dig up stone worms for they would constantly be crowded out.
Caesar, on the other hand, never moved his ass from the entrance of the cave. He just squatted there, ignoring all the kids’ persuasion. Even when some kid reluctantly gave him half of a raw fish, he did not look at it and instead kept staring at the mountaintop.
Upon seeing Shao Xuan return, Caesar was immediately elated and rushed towards Shao Xuan at the first sight of him. If Shao Xuan had not awakened the totemic power and become much stronger, he perhaps would literally have been pinned down by Caesar.
All the kids in the cave were counting on his return, so Shao Xuan took Caesar to the gravel yard and they dug out many stone worms. After a winter’s hibernation, almost all the stone worms returned to the surface of the ground, resulting in a big harvest.
Since he had awakened his totemic power, Shao Xuan would go on hunting missions with his new team, making it impossible for him to be in charge of the orphan cave. After discussing with Ge, Shao Xuan left Tu and Ba to manage the cave together. Tu could count well, and his memorization ability was also outstanding. He was much more brave now and he could talk fluently. The only weakness about him was that he still seemed weak and slim. Ba on the other hand, was not outstanding in all those aspects, but his figure was strong enough. No one would be his rival once he got seriously angry. So it was reasonable that these two guys were in charge together.
After handling the stuff in the cave, Shao Xuan saw Lang Ga approach with a bright smile.
“Good lad! You impressed us all for awakening so early! I thought you’d have to wait for another two years or more!” Lang Ga was quite thrilled. Shao Xuan had asked Lang Ga before about whether he could join their hunting team after he awakened his totemic power, back in the days when they were chatting. Mai did not refuse Shao Xuan then, and in fact Mai had helped Shao Xuan after that, so it seemed that Mai was also optimistic about Shao Xuan.
At first, when they attended the ritual ceremony, they felt it was a shame that Shao Xuan was still too young. However, no one expected that Shao Xuan would give them such a big surprise last night.
Becoming a totemic warrior meant that he could own his own independent house, and Lang Ga was just here to help him with that.
Lang Ga and a few warriors from the same hunting team were having a barbecue party together, and were discussing the first upcoming hunting mission of the year. When Lang Ga heard Shao Xuan had left the Shaman’s place, he came to find him and drag him to their house to meet his future teammates.
There were six people in Lang Ga’s wooden house. They were all very young, and one of them had only awakened last year. However, he was already thirteen years old when he had awakened and he had grown a lot over the last year, so he now seemed much bigger than Shao Xuan in size.
Knowing that these people would be his future teammates, Shao Xuan also greeted them warmly with enthusiasm.
“Don’t worry about the house. We will cut some wood and help you build it the first thing tomorrow.” The young man named Ang told Shao Xuan.
At first, Shao Xuan assumed that he could only have his own independent house after two or three years. However, he unexpectedly could have it in such a short time.
Normally, people like Sai, who had their own families, would stay with their family even after they had awakened. However, for someone like Shao Xuan, who came from the orphan cave, they basically had to ask their friends to help build a house.
Since he was already here, Lang Ga did not plan to let Shao Xuan leave quite so soon, and instead wanted to keep Shao Xuan here at their barbecue party. Since the whole winter had passed, the meat they preserved was not fresh anymore even though Lang Ga and his friends preferred fresh meat. It didn’t matter anyway, as they would have their first hunting trip of the year very soon. So several people brought the meat they still had in their homes, with the thought that they would get more fresh meat after they had eaten up the old.
As they were eating and chatting, Ang suddenly mentioned the widespread word in the tribe – Potlatch.
That was only a legend.
It’s said that there was someone in the tribe that once held a Potlatch. A Potlatch was a feast that was considered the winner of a contest between hosts to see who could feed their invited guests the most. As for the definition of “most”; there lay the interesting part. They had to feed the guests until they got so full, that they would wobble over the grass and vomit somewhere. After they threw up all the food in their bellies, guests would return to the feast and continue to eat, until they felt like they could throw up again, at least a few times, only then could the feast be considered as a successful one.
That kind of feast was the so-called Potlatch.
So based on Lang Ga’s description, Shao Xuan knew that the Potlatch aimed at giving out or even destroying more food and property than one’s competitors. Some people would even destroy their food and clothes in front of the public, and sometimes they would even burn their houses down to the ground, to build up their prestige in the tribe and humiliate their competitors. One who did that would gain the long-term admiration from his followers.
Whoever was able to do that, would be someone with considerable power and status, who was ambitious in seizing even higher power.
That was arrogant enough, conceited enough, and idiotic enough.
Then Shao Xuan noticed Lang Ga and his friends’ facial expressions when they talked about the Potlatch. There was a kind of undisguised admiration. As if they wanted to kneel before the host of a Potlatch if ever he showed his face here.
Seeing Shao Xuan’s astonishment, Lang Ga acted like an elder and claimed that, “you don’t understand it yet.”
Yes, Shao Xuan did not understand it. In his eyes, only a total moron would do such deeds and how could he be admired and respected by warriors like Lang Ga?
No, it should be said that all people in the tribe admired such deeds deeply!
Thinking that in his previous life, people would only feel honored if there were leftovers when they treated their guests, Shao Xuan finally began to understand a little. As it turned out that the tradition came from the earliest generations of men. However, that was such severe waste of things!
He had underestimated the obsession that people here had towards food. They had such unique pursuit of the concept of food.
In the past, Shao Xuan had heard a lot of discussions between the kids in the cave, about which warrior had defeated what kind of ferocious beast. Those heroes were worshiped a lot in the past, and their glorious deeds were remembered and passed on to the new generations.
However, now Shao Xuan was informed that there was another even more glorious deed.
Originally, to get followers, one did not need to beat up people, use lies, no need to lobby, or persuade, or sweeten the deal. And all plans to outwit someone were unnecessary. All that needed to be done was to host a Potlatch, and then numerous people would want to become your followers.
Shao Xuan felt that his values of life had been distorted.
Looking up at those two crescent moons in the sky, Shao Xuan sighed, “I shall be a moron someday in the future!”
“What did you say?” Lang Ga did not understand Shao Xuan’s meaning.
“Nothing. I said that, if possible, one day we shall host a Potlatch ourselves!” Shao Xuan said.
Lang Ga and his companions laughed out, and Lang Ga, having the most laughter, tapped on Shao Xuan’s shoulder. After he stopped laughing, he even praised Shao Xuan, “That’s the spirit!”
In the eyes of Lang Ga and Mai, what Shao Xuan just said was merely some childish talk after hearing a legend and they did not consider it seriously. After all, they had never seen a Potlatch held during their lifetime. Neither had their parents or their grandparents. None of them had seen a real one.
Was the legend true or not? Even the Shaman and the chief could not tell.
Perhaps Lang Ga felt that it was not appropriate to keep on discussing the Potlatch, and he changed the subject, for he wanted to show off more in front of Shao Xuan.
“You know…What is the most intimate partner of ours since we were born?” asked Lang Ga.
Shao Xuan sat still, looked down, and thought about it for a bit. Then he raised his head, and stared at Lang Ga meaningfully, as he said tentatively, “Our left hand?”
Lang Ga was speechless, “…”