Forefather Bamboo and the Savages had never been ones for appropriate conduct, but like anyone else, they were harsher on others than on themselves. It was fine enough oppressing others, but they would never stand for being toyed with!
Sure enough, the voice chuckled remotely. "Isn't trespassing on another race's lands a specialty of yours? What, are you the only ones allowed to? Can't I come and take a stroll in your domain?"
"Oh?" Looking pensive, Forefather Bamboo's eyes suddenly lit up. "I understand now. Human?" He broke out into hearty laughter. "It's hard to imagine. Humans have always been weak and timid as a mouse, but you must be a powerful one to dare make trouble in my holy land."
"You're right. And what of it?"
The clouds suddenly roiled downwards, as if some sort of power was pressing down on the entire sky. Countless bolts of purple lightning snaked amongst the clouds like snakes and dragons as they rained down in a furious torrent.
Seeming to possess aiming ability of their own, the fearsome bolts struck the group of Savage warriors dead center. There were at least several thousand warriors in front of the temple, all of them helpless against the deluge of lightning. Naked torsos toppled one after another as they lay on the ground, twitching.
Those most critically hit were instantly scorched into lumps of coal.
Forefather Bamboo stared, dumbstruck. "Bastard, I'm going to kill you!"
To think this human would attack without warning! And rather than the forefather himself, his target was his fighters instead. The lightning-wielding human was obviously an empyrean master, someone the gathered warriors couldn't compare to individually.
Though shrewd beyond comparison, the forefather had been caught off-guard.
"Die!" The old man's skinny figure turned into a faint blue blur that shot at the sky. At the same time, his fingers gripped the air, creating enormous bone claws encircling half of the sky.
These claws could capture anyone slightly lacking in cultivation. It was incredibly difficult to escape from their clutches.
But with a flash of light, the figure in the clouds turned into a trail of light that vanished in the sky.
"Don't think you can run away!" Seething, Forefather Bamboo chased tightly behind, afterimages trailing behind as he gained speed and punctured the clouds.
However, the fleeing figure in front of him was equally fast. It seemed that after all that talk, the interloper would avoid a direct confrontation!
The Holy Beast followed behind the forefather, man and spirit creature united in hot pursuit.
The temple was a mess after the strange events. The earlier strike had killed more than half the warriors, while the survivors lay on the ground and wailed with grief.
A terrible glint shone in the forefather's eyes, but he was secretly alarmed. "They say humans are weak, but this man is clearly different. Even if he's not my match, he can't be that much worse judging by his speed."
He'd previously imagined he'd quickly catch up. Then he'd capture the man and beat him into submission, and then parade him around in the human domain and strike a lethal blow to their morale. However, his plan sounded lovely, but it wasn't so easy to achieve in practice.
One retreated and one chased behind. The show went on for one hour, then two hours...
One day, two days, three days...
A month went by in the blink of an eye. Many times, the forefather had thought he'd finally caught his prey, only to be thwarted at the last second.
At the beginning, he'd considered calling it quits, but his anger wouldn't let him. Near the end, this determination had almost become a form of torture.
He'd left his domain to lead his kin to great glory. The armies of the four great villages were gathered northwest of the human domain, waiting for his command. But a surprise foe had appeared before he could set off.
On the third day, he'd begun to suspect the human was intentionally leading him on a merry chase. But he couldn't give up now even if this was the case. Every time he thought of doing so, the man would swagger in front of him like a ghost, threatening to flatten his temple and destroy the Savages' faith.
The temple was the tribe's pillar of spiritual support. It was a totem, the fulcrum of their beliefs. Its destruction would be a catastrophe for the entire tribe.
Hence, though the forefather burned with impatience and yeared to fly to the human domain, he had no choice but to stay the course. He summoned various Savage powerhouses in the meantime, urging them to pursue this trespasser.
Only, his target was far more slippery than he'd imagined.
Most importantly, the human was always on his guard. He accurately predicted each time the experts blocking his path and deftly avoided their traps, leaving the forefather and his empyrean reinforcements powerless. Crestfallen, they could only hurl abuse his way.
In the dead of the night, inside a deep valley somewhere in Savages territory,
Inside a secluded cave, Forefather Bamboo and four other empyrean masters were tensely debating the best plan. These four new elders were the guardians of the four great villages who'd come at his call, respectful of his status of a totem to the tribe as a whole.
"Forefather, the bastard is cunning. He's wasting your time on purpose. Our armies are waiting in the northwest, and the more we delay, the greater the blow to their morale."
"I agree. The humans have a saying that one needs to strike the iron when it's hot. We can't make our warriors wait any longer."
"Despicable humans, how dare they use such a cheap trick!"
"Forefather, why don't you go ahead and lead the invasion? Leave the chase to us. We can protect the temple even if we can't kill him," an elder with angular eyes suggested.
The forefather sighed. "Do you think I don't want to? But what if the bastard goes to your villages and attacks your lands while you're guarding the temple? Is there anyone back home who can withstand that guy?"
The Savages had four great villages, each of them powerful enough to count several empyrean masters in their ranks. However, most had left for the campaign against the humans, ready to sweep away everything in their path like a tornado.
The four elders paled, their expressions turning stiff.
After trying to catch up to the human powerhouse for this long, they'd personally experienced how troublesome the man was. It would truly be an issue if he raided their homes as the forefather had said.
The atmosphere grew heavy.
A slightly chubby elder gnashed his teeth. "How can our plans of a grand, holy war be halted by a single man?"
The group was at its wits' end. If the forefather couldn't go to the northwestern lands, the results would be easy enough to imagine.
Left to their own devices, each village had its own selfish goals. They seldom acted in concert. If they were to fight without a leader, the elders would thank the heavens if the forces weren't all picked off one by one, to say nothing of wiping out the humans. It was the reason they'd been waiting for the forefather.
The latter was the villages' common ancestor. No one could contest his prestige or his power. He was a supreme figure towering above them all. His presence would keep the army under control.
Without him, the army might achieve a few easy victories, but to make deep inroads into enemy territory was another kettle of fish.
The ancestor asked darkly, "This old man has a mission for you. Can you complete it?"
"What is it?"
"You don't need to kill him. Just keep him busy. Can you do that?" He now had no choice but to compromise. He couldn't waste his time any further.
All four elders mumbled indecisively. No one answered outright. They were weary after a month-long chase and had no confidence they could handle the human.
"There are four of you and only one of him. If you can't deal with a single human, we might as well give up the invasion and go back home. Revitalizing our tribe would be impossible." Displeasure laced the forefather's voice.
He'd hoped these four fellows would agree decisively. But none of them possessed any courage, it would seem. They hemmed and hawed, shirking their responsibilities.
Intimidated by the forefather's scowl, the elder with the angular eyes responded weakly, "Keeping him busy might be possible. How long do we need to?"
The forefather thought for a moment. "A month at best, three at most. I'm roughly aware of the humans' general situation. There's only a Veluriyam Capital who can weather the storm. The other factions are worthless rabble. Of course, there must be some hidden masters as well, which is worrisome. Taking all the elements into account, three months is a reasonable estimate!"
Three months. The four elders looked at each other and nodded. "Forefather, we'll do our best. In worst comes to worst, we'd rather leave our villages vulnerable than let him destroy the temple. This we swear to you!"
They knew the temple was the forefather's main worry. As to their villages, he might not particularly care.