This damn primordial tribe!
“There will be one day when we return to our former land. Glory still exists, and the fire of Flaming Corner will never be vanquished.”
Shao Xuan sat in a remodeled bus and looked at the multitudinous mountains outside the window. Summer Solstice had just passed and the mountains were brimming with greens that burst with life. Seeing such a scene after living long in the city made his mood—despondent due to failures—quite brighter. Initially, Shao Xuan planned to call up a few friends for a journey far away to unwind his heart, but he didn’t expect to come across his fellow townmate and classmate who studied archeology, Shi Qi, who then pulled him over for an archaeology trip.
Now, they were heading towards a relatively remote small mountain village. It was said that things of the Stone Age were discovered there. A batch of people had already set off for that location, and currently, they were in the second batch.
Shao Xuan listened to his classmate start from the primitive humans’ skull, to the stone tools they used, to the murals on rocks. He even took out a few pictures and explained them in detail—the researchers did this and that . . . after drilling in, it was hard to pull it back out . . . Although Shao Xuan didn’t understand a thing, he still gave face to him and listened attentively.
On the paper were murals that archaeologists had discovered. Shao Xuan glimpsed at them, and felt they were no better than his nephews’ and nieces’ who had yet to even enter kindergarten.
The lines on the drawings were rather simple—for most of them, one could tell they were people who held tools for hunting, as well a few drawings of various species of animals. For the rest, however, he did not have a clue what they were.
“This is a drawing of a goat? But this goat drawing is too big,” Shao Xuan said as he pointed at a picture.
On the picture, the drawing was a goat with a very long and large curved horn. By its side, there was a person holding a bow and arrows. Yet, the ratio did not seem normal. The head of the person reached only up to the goat’s back. A few other pictures were the same: a rabbit’s body proportion was akin to a lion, and on the left, there was even a picture of a horse, though its tail was drawn perhaps a bit too short.
Of course, not every single drawing’s ratio was like that. The different era’s mural styles discovered in different provinces were all distinct. At the back, the ratios were drawn a bit more like reality. On the drawings, you could even see a group of people bringing dogs for hunting.
He continued flipping back, and found several coloured drawings, giving an even clearer look to them.
“Hoh, this drawing is even more ridiculous. The antler is too large! And this person . . . The person in the drawing just now only reached the goat’s back, yet in this drawing, the person only reaches the height of this deer’s leg! What’s that in the bottom-right corner . . . An eight-legged alligator?!” Shao Xuan could not admire the style of the primitive humans’ drawing.
“They may not have put much emphasis on things like these,” Shi Qi explained.
“You mean that when they draw, they did not have any realism in terms of proportion, and instead used exaggerated methods?” Shao Xuan asked.
“It should be like that.” Shi Qi scratched his head. “After all, in that time period, humans were not too educated in beauty. The drawings may only represent some sort of symbolic meaning. There was once a researcher who, when studying the murals, hypothesized that the reason why humans back then drew these hunting-related murals on cave walls or boulders was to let the tribe’s hunters or warriors have an idea in their hearts before heading out. Or, perhaps there was a ceremony we don’t know of—especially so for the murals drawn by those ‘shamans’.”
“Shamans huh . . .” In Shao Xuan’s mind, an image of a very odd and old swindler appeared.
“Ahh, why do you have such a face? Let me tell you this: ‘shamans’ back then did not necessarily hold low positions in human tribes. Quite oppositely, it’s very possible they held high ones.”
“I know. Swindlers, right?” Shao Xuan nodded.
Shi Qi waved his finger left and right, then took out a folder. In it were some copies of scanned drawings. As he pointed at some of the drawings and characters, Shi Qi said to Shao Xuan, “If the appearance of totems is humans’ personification of nature and their own collective unity, that means the thoughts of shamans are humans’ naturalization. The occupation of ‘shaman’ has actually already appeared in the Stone Age . . .”
Shi Qi then started to talk about the development of the occupation of “shaman” from the ancient times to the present ones—without caring about Shao Xuan. The usage of specialized jargon and even quoting various classics and works, causing Shao Xuan who was listening to have a headache.
Shao Xuan did not have too great of an understanding in that field, nor did he feel interest. If he didn’t have an old townmate and classmate who studied archaeology, Shao Xuan would have simply not bothered knowing anything of those things. Before, when he heard people talk about archaeology, he immediately thought of those priceless antiques. However, the direction of study Shi Qi took was simply more antique than antiques! It was so ancient that not many people felt interest towards the topic. Several days ago, Shao Xuan was even listening to the broadcast’s discussion on whether “Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution” was correct, or “the hypothesis on ‘aliens created life-forms’” was correct. Since he had nothing better to do, Shao Xuan gave it a listen. After doing so, he put it aside and did not study it any further.
On the contrary, Shao Xuan knew he had interest in ancient human species from a young age. Back then, during middle school, he often had discussions with others regarding several excavated yet disappeared ancient human species remains in recent modern history.
“You won’t understand if I speak professionally, so I’ll go simpler! Look!” Shi Qi used his finger to point at a map on a certain location. “‘Shaman’ is mentioned in ancient inscriptions on things such as cow bones, turtle shells, and bronze. But, it’s like this . . .”
Shao Xuan looked at the place Shi Qi pointed towards. It was a symbol, looking akin to the interweaving of two “work” (工) characters.
“On a few ancient potteries and statues, this double-work symbol has appeared. On that topic, shamans also affected areas such as hunting, praying, and rescuing. Looking at it in certain perspectives, ‘shamans’ can be counted as the scientists of that time. However, all of this is speculation. Even if it’s records from ancient times, they may not be true. After all, they loved to exaggerate. Isn’t there a saying that goes ‘There is never truth in history.’? Archaeology is merely digging up a few corners and edges. As for the truth, who knows.
“The discovered cave this time is also related to ‘shamans’. The final few pictures you saw were the murals the first batch of people sent back. In the cave, the double-work symbol was also discovered. So, we can speculate that it may be a certain ‘shaman’’s residential area. Last month, a brief earthquake occurred in that village’s region. Most likely, due to that, this cave was exposed. Before the earthquake, not a single person had heard of it.”
When he spoke up to there, Shi Qi closed the folder and carefully looked at his surroundings. Seeing that the instructor and other students were not paying attention at them, he lowered his voice, and secretively said to Shao Xuan, “I’ve heard the first person who discovered the cave was a child. Moreover, from a fellow student’s news, the child who discovered the cave saw a strange watermelon-sized insect crawling out from his courtyard’s wall. Children have great nerves, so that child followed the insect. In the end, it disappeared at the cave; the child went back, notifying adults, and only then was the cave discovered.”
“Watermelon-sized insect?” Shao Xuan felt it to be ridiculous. Regardless of who, when they heard that the first time, they would think it was overly fake. “That child lied?”
Shi Qi shook his head. “The strange thing is, according to the first batch of people who went there, that there are ancient life-form fossils in the rocks used to construct the courtyard’s walls.” Shi Qi paused, rubbed the goose bumps on his arm, then continued, “There are fossils of ancient organisms in the rock which spawned a watermelon-sized insect, as shown by the child who discovered the cave. However, it was not complete. It was only a portion of the remains. But even so, according to the researchers’ theories, if that organism were still living, it could indeed be as big as a watermelon. Moreover, its appearance would also be quite close to the child’s descriptions.”
“ . . . It sounds incredible; however, was the child the only one who saw it, and others didn’t see insects crawling out of their walls?” Shao Xuan was a bit drawn in.
Shi Qi shook his head. “I don’t know. Let’s go ask in a while when we get there. We’re almost there anyway.”
When the group of people arrived at their destination, it was already noon, 11 o’clock. Shao Xuan followed Shi Qi and the others and ate a simple lunch, then returned to the bus.
Shi Qi and the others were already impatient. After eating, they did not rest and planned to immediately start working.
Shi Qi had already told Shao Xuan the things he needed to pay heed to: which things couldn’t be touched, which places couldn’t be gone to, who to find when he needed someone, etc. Shao Xuan had a plan in his heart.
“I’ll talk to you after work today. Take a scroll by yourself for now! The scenery in this place is quite nice: green mountains, blue skies and waters . . . Clean out your lungs after staying in the smoggy city!”
After speaking Shi Qi took his tools and followed his instructor. Shao Xuan was not allowed in that place, but he did not have much interest going there regardless.
Only Shao Xuan was left in the bus. After closing the windows and doors of the buss, it was fairly quiet. In the past few days, Shao Xuan hadn’t gotten good sleep, and on the road, he was listening to Shi Qi’s narrations. Now that it was silent, he was sleepy.
When he woke up, it was nearly 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Shao Xuan planned to head out for a walk. Just as he planned to do that, he saw Shi Qi in work clothes walking over. He went in the buss and grabbed a document. Afterwards, he continued to hurry over and work.
However, before leaving the bus, Shi Qi took out a chicken egg–sized stone and threw it to Shao Xuan. “I picked it up from the cave, and as they weren’t paying attention, I grabbed it. It shouldn’t be anything important. I cannot give you ‘antiques’, but regardless, this stone was still found in the cave. It even looks quite smooth! Someone probably threw it over there, but I’ll give it to you as a remembrance.”
The stone was found near the cave entrance, and was some distance away from the core of the cave. The quality of the stone was also clearly different from the other objects dug out, and there lacked any marks on it. So, the people who came in the first batch focused on the murals and Stone Age’s “antiques”. No one cared about the piece of stone near the cave entrance, and for the sake of amusement, Shi Qi smoothly obtained it.
After catching the thrown stone, Shao Xuan looked at it carefully in his hand. The feeling of it was no different from other stones—dark-green, chicken egg–shaped, a rather sleek surface, as if it were polished carefully. There was nothing odd at a first glance, and even though it wasn’t any “antique”, it was decent as a small toy, or as an ornament.
Shao Xuan did not mind it. After playing around with it in his hands for a while, he felt that the stone could not be warmed up. After a dozen or so minutes in his hands, it was still quite cool. Thinking about it, Shao Xuan took out a lighter and used fire to burn the stone. Logically speaking, the places that the flames came in contact to should be slightly scorching. But the reality was after burning, it was still as cool as before.
Sweeping his gaze at his surroundings, Shao Xuan took a fruit knife from the table and laid a piece of paper. He planned to use the knife to scrape off a few bits and take it to the archaeology bus and ask someone to help him examine it. However, after scraping the stone with the knife, not even the faintest of traces were left behind. There was not even a scratch from jabbing it with the tip of the knife.
Cannot be heated by fire, cannot be marked by a knife . . . It was truly an odd stone.
Shao Xuan walked down the bus with the stone, planning to let Shi Qi look at it carefully later.
The bus stopped at a fairly close distance from the village. It was just that the road was not too suitable for walking.
Some of the villagers in the village had went to work, and those a bit more leisure went to the newly discovered cave for the liveliness. As such, when Shao Xuan entered the village, he only saw a few people walking around.
Around the village was a two-meter tall wall made from rock and dirt. It was said to be built several dozens of years ago for protection against wild beasts. The rocks came from the mountain; however, there weren’t many large beasts recently, so no one paid any more attention to the stone wall.
Glancing at it, he could see the wall’s large pieces of rocks. It had a long history, bringing about a feeling of desolation.
Shao Xuan played around with the stone in his hand, his eyes staring at it. Hearing about the discovery of ancient organism fossils in the walls’ rocks, Shao Xuan recalled the “watermelon-sized insect” Shi Qi spoke of.
He was just planning to shift his gaze away when suddenly, Shao Xuan saw a snake-like thing appear on the wall. It was even squirming around. As thick as a small water tank, and its scale-like patterns emitted a cold glint. It was several meters away, but Shao Xuan felt a chill go down his spine, and all his hair stand on end. It frightened him so much he almost leaped into the air. Yet, when Shao Xuan blinked and looked back, he discovered absolutely nothing. The rock wall was still the broken rock wall that took many years of beating from the weather.
Shao Xuan looked at the other places of the wall. Afterwards, his line of sight fell upon a hole in the wall. There was a large rock over there, left behind after the wall at that area collapsed. The small parts were taken by the villagers back home to build their own walls, the larger ones were left, untouched. And, at that moment, Shao Xuan saw a green-coloured sprout pop up from the rock. The sprout quickly bud leaves and grew tall. At the same time, several vines extended outward towards all directions. The initially three-meter tall hole was instantly veiled by the vines and leaves. A fragrance belonging to plants even permeated the air.
Shao Xuan took several steps back, breathing deeply. Focusing his eyes and looking back, he discovered the vines and branches had disappeared. The rock wall was same as usual, but the ground was full of the large smooth stones.
Feeling some strange movement in his hand, Shao Xuan looked down at the stone.
The stone that could not be heat up nor could be scratched became sand in a split moment. They slipped through the gaps between Shao Xuan’s fingers
When the final speck of sand fell, Shao Xuan’s vision went pitch-black.
Chapter One – The Person in Front, Your Pants Are Slipping
In a cave, lying down everywhere in disorder were twenty children. A layer of thin, ragged hide covered around seven children. The others who weren’t covered by the hide either had their own, or they had to shrink in a ball at the side. But no matter if they were covered or shrunk into a ball, they sleep very soundly.
Since it hadn’t been cleaned in a long time and there were many people sleeping, there was a very heavy stench lingering about the cave. In their surroundings, there were bore air vents, allowing sunlight to enter, which barely permitted some light in the dark cave.
Underneath the air vent, on one side of the cave, a young child clad in torn tide was sleeping there. However, he was different from the others. There was also a large dog that slept by his side, nearly the same size as him.
Shao Xuan opened his eyes. Seeing the sunlight that had already shone to his shoulders, he rubbed his eyes, crawled up, and tidied up the dry grass laid underneath him. Seeing Shao Xuan actions, the large dog with initially closed eyes quickly rose and obediently knelt by his side so as to let Shao Xuan pick up the dry grass it was just on.
After bundling the grass together, Shao Xuan walked out of the cave with one hand holding the bundle of dry grass, and the other holding the dog leash, which was made out of rope.
Arriving at such a primitive tribe–like area in such an ineffable manner, becoming a small brat in the tribe located in the desolate wilderness. This body was very weak, as it likely hadn’t been able to heal from an illness. Ever since Shao Xuan woke up from that body, over half a year had passed. Even if he didn’t get used to it, he could only grit his teeth and bear with it. Only survival was the most important.
Shao Xuan never would have expected to truly come to a place like that. There were great differences from the primitive tribes of the Stone Age he had learnt from before when it was compared to this. Their appearances did not look anything special, but their essence was different.
Have you ever seen an ordinary person carrying a small water tank–sized rock with a single hand scrolling around aimlessly on the streets?
Have you ever seen an ordinary person jump three stories high—without the assistance of any tool—and stand stably after jumping down from a ten-meter tall three?
Shao Xuan had never seen that in his past life, but in this one . . . he sees it every day!
As for the cave he just came out of, its original name was “Lying Down Cow Cave” because the appearance of the cave was like a cow that was lying down. It was named by the tribe’s “shaman” back then; however, a thousand years had since passed. As the years and months replaced one another, the tribe, as it reproduced, built houses outside the cave. As a result, the cave was used as a place for orphans that were taken in by the tribe. Henceforth, it was named as the “Children’s Cave” by the tribe’s people. The children who lived inside had no parents to take care of them, nor were there anyone in the tribe who were willing to take them in as their own. So, all in all, the “Children’s Cave” was the tribe’s orphanage.
After Shao Xuan arrived at that place, he hadn’t seen people from other tribes. Which meant in the vicinity of their mountain range, there was only one tribe, their “Flaming Horn” tribe.
In the isolated tribe, it was a life of self-sufficiency.
Whilst pulling the dog, Shao Xuan walked about in leisure.
Shortly after, he saw an incongruously sized wooden house. Some of its components were also wood combined with things such as rocks, grass, and dirt. In comparison to the one before, this one, made of wood and rocks, was slightly larger, and it looked also a bit sturdier. That house could be counted as a mansion, located near the foot of the mountain.
But no matter if it was the wooden houses or the wooden and rock “mansions”, in Shao Xuan’s eyes, they were constructions that were horrendously simple. However, after staying there for such a long time, Shao Xuan did yearn for a wooden house that belonged to himself. But, that stage could not be realized.
At that time, there were already people starting to move about. The men had already took out their stone tools for grinding so it’d be more convenient the next time they went hunting with already sharpened stone knives. The women too had their own work—sewing hides, drying foods, etc.
When Shao Xuan passed, quite a few people’s gazes looked over. Not at Shao Xuan, but at the organism Shao Xuan was pulling. In their eyes were drooling and greed as they swallowed their saliva. In their perspective, Shao Xuan was pulling a huge chunk of meat, enough for them to have several meals. The eyes of those who woke up early to work yet still had an empty stomach turned green; however, after they saw the thing worn around its neck, they—unwillingly—endured their longing to take the wolf away. That was the Marking Tile of the “shaman”, meaning it belonged to the shaman. They did not dare to touch it. In their eyes, Shao Xuan was also merely helping the shaman to look after the wolf.
Yes, it was actually a wolf by Shao Xuan’s side. It was born within the mountain ranges, but when it was young, a warrior hunting from the tribe found it. He brought it back so Shao Xuan could eat it, but coincidentally, the tribe’s shaman passed by, left a Marking Tile that had the marking of a shaman, then departed. Shao Xuan named the wolf “Caesar”, the name in which Shao Xuan named his former life’s dog. He raised Caesar like he did a dog, all the way up until the present.
The thoughts of the people there were very odd. Clearly, they respected the shaman quite a bit, yet their attitude when facing Shao Xuan did not change much even after seeing the shaman giving a Marking Tile to Shao Xuan. The only thing different was them holding out on their desire to cut Caesar up and eat it. As for the other areas, they did nothing more than what they’d usually do. After all, the shaman did not tell everyone to help Shao Xuan. Where would such a grand character such as the shaman have time to pay attention to a child? As time passed, all of them got used to a child that had a wolf. And, ever since Caesar was a wolf cub who didn’t even have a complete row of teeth, the shaman hadn’t appeared again.
But what made the people near the foot of mountain baffled was why did Shao Xuan call Caesar a dog?
And, what was a dog?
However, that question did not linger for long because no one paid attention to it. They didn’t bother paying attention to it, as they were busy focusing on other things—food.
Shao Xuan was already used to the surrounding gazes. As though nothing were happening, he continued pulling Caesar and walking. Even if the tribe’s people were greedy, they would not go and rob the shaman’s things. As Shi Qi had said: shamans’ position in tribes was very high. As for why the person residing on the mountain’s “area for influential people”, the shaman whose position was the highest—or second-highest—in the tribe, would give Shao Xuan, who slept in the “Children’s Cave”—a very lowly existence—such an important Marking Tile, it was due to a term Shao Xuan mentioned back then—”raise”. Originally, Shao Xuan said back then to raise the little wolf cub Caesar before eating it, and coincidentally, the shaman heard those words. He allowed Shao Xuan to raise it, and in order to prevent the others in the tribe from taking it away, the shaman left a Marking Tile for Shao Xuan, which was put over his neck.
The “shaman” had great interest in raising, but in over half a year, the old man hadn’t even appeared once. As a result, the impression Shao Xuan had on the old man was—an irresponsible old swindler. Was it easy raising a wolf? Every day, he was being glared at by the people surrounding him. Without a powerful mental endurability, he would have already gone insane.
In short, raising Caesar was completely because of a coincidence.
How difficult was life! Although the tribe took care of the food issue in the Children’s Cave, he was still hungry.
Shao Xuan helplessly sighed. He looked forward, then the corners of his eyes twitched.
Before him, on his shoulder, a person was holding a stone club—two meters long in the shape of a baseball bat, yet a lot thicker. That was really quite heavy, and according to Shao Xuan’s past life’s standards, even if he could lift it up it would be very tiring. Yet, that person seemed to hold it as effortlessly as holding an ordinary hoe. With yawns, he languidly walked on the mountain, probably heading to the hunter group in order to discuss the matter of hunting.
That as a normal person in this place. As for Shao Xuan, he belonged in the weak collection of people who hadn’t have their Power of Totem awakened. When he reached around ten years old, his Power of Totem would be awakened, and only then would be count as an ordinary warrior who had the ability to hunt outside. The Power of Totem was the only level of measure that determined if one were able to become a hunting warrior or not in the tribe.
As for what exactly was the Power of Totem, Shao Xuan did not know. Perhaps he would understand when the time comes.
At that instant, the uncle before Shao Xuan who was carrying a stone club with an appearance of sleepiness had simply not seen the hide he wore as shorts nearly slid down to his knees. In broad daylight, he continued scroll about as though nothing were wrong. There were no reactions from the surrounding people when they saw it either.
Shao Xuan held it in, but ultimately, still said, “The Uncle who’s carrying a club in front, your pants are slipping!”
Only after Shao Xuan’s third yell did the person in front of him turn around with a yawn. He glanced over Shao Xuan, his line of sight pausing on Caesar for around half a minute, then looked down at his slid pants. Afterwards, he calmly pulled them up, fastened the belt, and continued walking towards the mountain with the club on his shoulder.
Shao Xuan no longer said anything.
In the perspective of the tribe’s people . . . Etiquette? Shame? What’s that? Can you eat it? If you can’t, what the hell is the point of talking about it?
Chronicles of Primordial Wars (原始戰記) is an ongoing Chinese web novel by Chen Ci Lan Tiao (陳詞懶調). It has over 1.98 million characters, and is listed, on qidian, under the category of “Xuan Huan” and the subcategory of “Foreign World Continent”. There are 670+ chapters, and the novel was started on 26th February, 2015.