Chapter 20 – The color of wildness
Translated by Sunyancai
The lyrics from that song came true.
Shao Xuan had an urge to slap himself in the face for singing that stupid song!
When the sun came out and the snow melted, Ge, together with some men, blocked the kids’ way when they were holding the fishing tools, intending to rush to the riverside to go fishing.
Seeing Ge’s familiar smile, and looking at the men Ge brought, the kids finally realized what he was up to. Fuck! Every year when winter ended and before the opening of the rituals of the Snow Festival, they would be dragged to the stream to take a bath.
The most annoying bath!!
If put it in an elegant way, it was required to take a bath before tribal rituals. While the realistic situation was that, those who were unwilling to go take a bath themselves would be carried to the stream and be given a brush-bath by force. Looking at the warriors that Ge brought! One had to be brushed anyway!
Luckily, Shao Xuan wanted to take a bath. Throughout the winter, he hadn’t even washed his face a single time, and his hair became a sticky mess long ago. If Ge had not mentioned it, he would have never imagined how he looked like now.
Shao Xuan walked towards the stream and looked at his reflection in the water. The image was blurred by ripples, but still, he could roughly see that he looked disheveled.
Strong and powerful warriors could jump directly into the freezing cold stream, but it was totally different for kids. Ge had told someone to boil some water before they arrived so that the warriors could mix the hot water with the cold stream water in a ladle, and then pour it on the naked whelp that was being pinned down on a flat stone. At the same time, they used something like grass vines to scrub his body constantly. Together with every single scrub, streams of black water would flow down. Those whelps were just as dirty as mud!
Poured on with water, and scrubbed by grass vines, those who had completely experienced the whole process would be tossed to the haystack on the side. Someone would wrap them in clean animal skins and carry them back into the orphan cave. The animal skin that they had used to wear and the blankets they used to wrap on were also taken away by women in the tribe. They would be sent back after they were washed and dried.
Shao Xuan’s eyelids twitched seeing this.
He felt like that he was in a meat processing factory…
Seeing Ge approaching, Shao Xuan said immediately, “Give me a ladle and I’ll do it myself!”
Since Shao Xuan was willing to comply, Ge tossed him a ladle and then focused his attention on the other kids. None of the kids who had survived the winter could escape from this.
After being washed and scrubbed, the kids back in the cave were told that the Snow Festival rituals would be held the day after tomorrow. That was the Shaman’s decision so naturally no one would complain, let alone reject it. It was thus clear to see how successful that old wizard’s brainwashing was. Even after being toyed around like that, they did not have the slightest bit of complaint towards Shaman.
Three days after winter was over, the thick layer of snow by the entrance of the cave had melted away quickly. Of course, the ice covers in the vents lasted no longer either. But as the winter ended, the temperature rose quickly. So if covered with animal skin blankets, one would not feel too cold. Everything seemed to be vivid again.
The deepest impression that these two days left on Shao Xuan, was that many people who used to pay no attention to their appearances and were as slovenly as beggars, suddenly cleaned themselves up and were appropriately dressed up. Even if their clothes of animal skins were no good in quality with holes here and there, they were at least clean and tidy. Also, their hair, long or short, was carefully combed.
At the very day of the Snow Festival, all the kids were sleeping in the cave. The rituals wouldn’t be starting until the night, and now they were not permitted to go fishing by the river. So they continued sleeping, as someone would come and wake them up when it was time.
The straw curtain of the cave was lifted, and Ge, coming from the outside, shouted out towards those sleeping kids, “Okay, boys. Get up and get prepared! We need to go up the mountain!”
Shao Xuan hardly recognized Ge when he first saw him. Now Ge was wearing a pair of horns from some fierce animal, and around his neck, there were a few animal bone necklaces. Also, the animal skin clothes he was wearing were not the usual ones. The patterns on them were very clear, and the fur stood out like steel needles. They looked the opposite of soft, as the fur was probably from some ferocious beast.
Aside from different clothes, Ge painted some patterns on his face with plant pigment. On both his cheeks there were outlines similar to their tribal totem. On his forehead, nose, and jaw, there were also painted lines. Every time when a hunting team was on a mission, totemic warriors would paint those symbols on their faces. Although totemic lines would show up on their bodies when hunting, painting on the face before hunting became a traditional custom as well as a ceremony. Now it was the same with rituals.
Seriously speaking, it was Shao Xuan’s first time to attend a ritual. When he woke up at this place, it had passed the ritual seasons, and in his memories there were no related experiences. It felt new and novel.
All the kids in the cave were pretty excited about the rituals, for such an event required the attendance of all the people in the tribe, no matter where they lived and who they were. From residents in the mountain top to people in mountain foot district; from the strongest warriors to the infants crying piteously for food; all must go up to the top and attend the ceremony.
It was the symbol of a year’s beginning, as well as the most joyful event every year.
The ritual location was at the top of the mountain, near to Shaman’s residence.
Shao Xuan followed everyone out of the cave and left Caesar inside.
It grew dark as night would soon fall. The active night swallows from the winter seemed to have noticed something, so they hid their tracks as Shao Xuan saw none tonight.
As they were marching to the top, Shao Xuan saw others climbing up the mountain in groups. They were all “dressed up”. On their heads, there were antlers, horns, feathers, and some other decorations that Shao Xuan could not recognize. Around their necks, there were ugly necklaces made from ferocious beasts. Look at those animal teeth on their necklaces! The ones that the kids in the orphan cave were wearing were no comparison to them.
All totemic warriors, men, and women had painted the same lines on their faces, as the ones on Ge’s face. Shao Xuan saw a female warrior whose head was decorated with multicolored feathers. Around her neck were a few bone necklaces, and on her waist was a belt made from some kind of snakes, with gorgeous patterns. Also, there were bones hanging down her leather skirt as ornaments, that collided with each other and created clicking sounds while she walked.
Ge said that she was a tough female warrior and she had a high reputation in their tribe. Other women around all showed admiration and respect, seeing the decorations on her.
Compared to them, Shao Xuan and his companions looked like some thin chicks walking around a group of man-faced King-Kongs.
Shao Xuan also saw other kids in the tribe. Whether they were from the mountain foot district, mountainside district, or lived up near the mountain top district, those kids were dressed like the adults, just less impressive to Shao Xuan. But what was obvious was that, the higher they lived, the more “advanced” were their decorations.
The kid walking along with that tough female warrior was as proud as a peacock. With a look of “What crappy things are you wearing?”.
Shao Xuan’s eyes twitched and he looked away from that direction, only to find that all the whelps in the cave around him had sparkling eyes, staring at those kids with “advanced decorations” jealously.
All around was so aggressive, so fierce.
Wild and mysterious, all was covered in intense colors of the wilderness.
Shao Xuan’s expression stayed stiff all the time. That was the first time that he felt himself living in a primitive tribe so clearly.