The big black snake twisted its body, then shot forward like an arrow, following the black-cloaked barbarian at an alarming speed.
At this moment, Shi Mu was making for the opening of the valley at full speed, and a faint layer of blue light surrounded his body. He was using a Body-Lifting charm, with which he flew through the buildings so fast that he left a black line of afterimages. White Jade and the others were surely slower than him, as they did not have the assistance of the charm, and there was an interval of 50 meters between them which kept growing even larger. But Shi Mu’s knitted eyebrows did not relax for a second, for he distinctly felt he was being hunted by a venomous killer, going after him at an equally high speed. He began to regret that he had not brought more Fire Ball Charms with him, so that he could have bought more time, leaving the black-cloaked man the trouble of dealing with the fire.
As he fled, barbarian soldiers tried to stop him, but none succeeded, usually they were barely able to see Shi Mu’s figure before they lost sight their enemy.
A few minutes afterwards, a black silhouette flew out of the inner base, changing direction in midair before landing on the ground. This was, without a doubt, Shi Mu. He quickly glanced to his left, his eyes flashing. A short distance away should be the cliff that the four of them had crossed, and, unless something had gone wrong, the ropes should still be there, with those ropes, he could climb over the mountain and run away from the valley.
This train of though only took him a fleeting moment, before his body shot in the opposite direction, toward the opening of the valley, instead of the cliff to his left.
After two or three minutes, a succession of air-piercing sounds rang out as three more figures rushed out of the inner base. They were the other three members of the surprise party. The youth with sword and his dark-skinned companion scurried to the cliff anxiously, their faces pale with fright. The way they almost stumbled for their destination resembled someone desperate for a chunk of wood when lost at sea. White Jade halted for a moment, a gleam of hesitation in his eyes, but then rushed up behind the two, aiming for the cliff with the ropes.
Shortly afterwards, a wind whistled and a figure flashed in the dark. The black-cloaked barbarian had also made it here.
“Wow, so our cute kids have chosen different paths...” He murmured scornfully, having a quick look in either direction, one leading to the opening of the valley and the other toward the cliff.
“Well, go and have your dinner,” He made his decision, pointing at the valley.
The snake understood its master’s words and instantly whizzed past him. The barbarian allowed himself one more minute on the spot, sneering triumphantly to himself. This snake was a heavenly beast he captured in his homeland, and was raised according to the ancient barbarian’s method to cultivate a super-sensitive sense of smell, as well as shocking strength that was not to be underestimated - it was at least as strong as a Houtian warrior of the advanced stage. Thinking this, a sense of fulfillment welled up in his heart, and, amid overflowing indignation, he cursed inwardly, vowing to kill the four human kids who had looked down on his people. His sense of pride made him to move at an even faster speed, pursuing White Jade and the others.
At the entrance to the valley, more Totem warriors were beginning to join the battle, the condition soon became lopsided. The human warriors who had been feigning the attack were cornered, and the barbarian soldiers seized the chance to assist the Totem warriors, separating the human warriors for them to kill, one by one. Therefore, casualties grew every minute.
In the dense woods at the edge of the valley, Ke Er was holding her jade magic cane and chanting spells, and around her a dozen vine branches suddenly emerged out of the earth, each winding to the opening of the valley with a torch. A sheen of sweat had oozed from her forehead due to the beckoning of so many vines, beads of sweat shimmering as they rolled down to her nose. Color seemed to have been drained from her face.
Just then, a slender figure flashed through the bushes and landed near Ke Er, which turned to be the girl of Tian Yin Sect. She always wore inscrutable expression on her face.
“Hurry up, let’s withdraw, time’s up!” The inscrutable girl urged loudly.
Ke Er’s expression slightly changed; casting a deep look into the valley. Her eyes glinted hesitatingly. Red lights appeared against the western sky, then soon vanished after a few breaths’ time.
“The barbarians are coming, more of them! There’s no time for you to worry about that guy!” The inscrutable girl pressed in a more high-pitched voice.
Ke Er nodded her head, sensing the edge of exasperation in the girl’s voice. She gave a gentle wave of her cane, and the dancing vines soon disappeared from sight, getting into the earth. After consuming so much of her energy, Ke Er seemed to have reach the limit, her body shuddering, her face as pale as ash. The inscrutable girl frowned resignedly, coming her way as fast as she can, and then supported her with the hand. In a short time both girls began racing to the distance.
Near the entrance to the valley, some seven or eight human warriors were also fleeing in all directions, and the slower ones could only get besieged by barbarian soldiers and Totem warriors, losing their lives one after the other. Many Totem warriors gradually realized that the number of their enemies amounted to, at most, a dozen, and that the troop in the dense woods was no more than a deceptive trick, thus they were extremely angry, howling and cursing in great rage as they chased after the fleeing human warriors. Soldiers in the valley also wielded their weapons to join the chorus, but were scolded by a middle-aged barbarian, who appeared to be their leader,
“The enemy has been vanquished! Leave the rest to the Totem warriors. You stupid pigs just return to the base and count our losses!”
He then threw a scornful look at the valley, and turned about to lead his army back. But just then, a rather short young barbarian soldier clad in beast hide attracted his attention. Against his order, the youth was running against the grain, cutting across the crowd just under his very eyes, undauntedly making his way out of the valley. The middle-aged leader’s face fell. Feeling his authority challenged, he shouted madly, “You, STOP! Which team are you in? Haven’t you heard my order?” He put the accent on the word “order” and almost screamed at the end.
The youth did not slacken his pace at the least, and continued his trudging through the crowd. The leader’s order going unheeded, he stared at the youth and suddenly changed his countenance, “No wait, you are not one of us! You are human!” The leader shouted, pressing his hand on the long blade at his waist.
The youth waved his arm, and a streak of black light shot up from his hand, flying into the middle-aged barbarian’s throat like a lightning bolt, irresistible and powerful. Blood gushed out from the wound, and, before he could withdraw his blade, the leader had already dropped dead onto the ground. The young barbarian quickened his pace, and his figure disappeared into the dense bushes after a few quick movements.
The barbarian soldiers were shocked for a moment, struck dumb by the sudden death. Then aroused by a few shouts of their team leaders, the army dashed all the way to the edge of the woods, but all they saw was a blank darkness. Not even a footstep could be heard. The team leaders stood gaping at each other, but then they almost felt their eyes deceiving them as a long black shadow whizzed past them and further into the woods. The army was stupefied, at a loss for words. Looking through the bushes and tree branches, they could see no enemy at all. The world was dead silent.
The youth who disguised as a barbarian was, without a doubt, Shi Mu. He was born extremely tall, and, with his bronze skin, he made for a somewhat passable barbarian. Right at this moment, he was speeding through the woods, and dared not slow down. Until having made it a good ten miles he halted to catch his breath. Exhaling a long breath, he looked over his shoulder in the valley’s direction, his heart still pounding in fear. The sudden appearance of a Xiantian stage barbarian was out of his expectations, and the terrifying strength of one could not be exaggerated. At this moment, he would be crushed like a bug by a Xiantian saint, that was beyond question. After resting for a few seconds, he got up. He would not linger any longer.
But just as he was to hurry on, a strange wind came abruptly from his right flank, and a black shadow shot up from the woods, aiming straight at Shi Mu’s neck. It was the black snake of the black-cloaked Xiantian barbarian!
Shi Mu’s body jolted in great shock, and every muscle of his screeched in fright. By reflex he ducked aside, and simultaneously raised his arm to punch at the snake.
Peng! A hard voice rang out, and it turned that Shi Mu had hit the snake’s jaw. It was struck down to the ground, its body wrenching, and the next moment the snake turned its head back to bite at Shi Mu’s hand. Shi Mu could not be more appalled. His strike was one of the Stone-Breaking Fist at its consummate stage, and how could that fail in giving the snake even a slight injure? When he hit it, all he felt was the roughness of its skin. But he did not have much time to stand still in shock. The snake’s fangs had neared his hand, and he had to stomp hard on the ground to shoot his body backward. Fortunately, the effect of the Body-Lifting Charm was still on him, and he was able to move at a speed equal to that of the black snake’s.
Having missed its target twice, the snake’s narrow eyes flared, and it hissed viciously, its red tongue swaying wildly. It temporarily halted for a rest. Shi Mu pulled out his black blade swiftly, holding it at his front, his face grave and determined, his eyes confronting the snake’s.
But while his face looked extremely composed his belly was full of anxiety. He kept looking from side to side, wondering if the black-cloaked man had also come with his snake. But the silence and normal air proved that the snake had come alone. It seemed that the black-cloaked man had chosen the other way, hunting White Jade instead. Shi Mu heaved a sigh of relief.
But the black snake proved to have less patience than Shi Mu, as he stood lost in thought, and its thick body, which looked just like a withered branch, sprang up from the earth, breaking the subtle peace the two of them had maintained for a while. Like an arrow, it pounced on its target, at a speed faster than before. At the same time, its head jolted, and duplicated many confusing images. But Shi Mu was not in the slightest aware of the snake’s painstaking trick, his eyes glittering gold. With a yell, his black blade chopped at one of the images of the snake’s head.
This produced a dull sound, and the snake’s body was pushed back. It managed to raise its head after rolling on the ground for a few meters, and, with an effort, it managed to get up. The only sign of damage was a bleeding scale. The snake shook its head violently, its eyes somewhat hazy and stupid, which suggested a concussion and possible loss of some consciousness.
Shi Mu’s eyes, however, were not stupid. Instead they dilated in amazement. He could not be more sure of the sharpness of his blade, and now his one all-out strike could only cause a concussion!
How on Earth was the snake’s body so hard?
Shi Mu felt faintly dizzy. He began to wonder if he was the one who had gotten a concussion.
But his movements were not dull. Before he knew it, he had dashed to the snake. Meanwhile the magic characters on the blade had lit up, and a layer of bright flame had formed around the blade’s surface. He shook it once, and thirteen red shadows rolled out in an instant.
The snake had by now regained its full consciousness, but it was not given enough time to dodge the attack. It twisted its body while moving back, and its huge tail simultaneously swung, piercing the air and whipping the red shadows.
Another dull sound resounded. The shadows were dispersed, but the snake was knocked into the air again, thumping against a big tree several meters away.