Time went by slowly. As this time passed, Shi Mu’s name became more and more known by those in the fortress areas, for the number of Totem warriors who fell under Shi Mu’s black blade kept increasing, and he had he had resisted two blows from the Xiantian saint Zong Yuan previously, which had become a legend in the passage of time. Therefore, most preferred to call him by the name of “Flaming Blade”, and the tales of his feats were widely spread among the barbarian warriors, always with a tone of fear and indignation.
Half a year later.
This day, on the borders of Rui Zhou City, one could hear the clang of swords striking helmets, shouting, and crying.
On an open area deep in the valley, a dozen powerfully built Totem warriors were in a wild battle with five human disciples, among them Shi Mu. The ground was already littered with around twenty dead bodies, and those belonging to human warriors accounted for most of them, being torn apart and scattered all over the valley by the barbarians. Broken limbs, ripped insides, and dark blood - the whole valley was filled with a repellent smell that would make anyone vomit with disgust.
Actually, Shi Mu and his ten-odd companions were attacked by these barbarians on their way back to the union’s stronghold after completing a mission. Initially there were, at most, seven Totem warriors, which gave the disciples much confidence, considering that there was safety in numbers. Young and ambitious, the disciples chose to confront the enemies to show their valor. However, shortly after the two sides started fighting, the situation became lopsided since ten more Totem warriors streamed into the valley to reinforce their own. The disciples leader, XiaHou Xuan, who came from Tian Yin sect, sensed the unfavorable prospect, but, by then, it was already too late for them to flee.
Now the human disciples were outnumbered. Add in their exhaustion after a mission and the barbarians were guaranteed to win. However desperately they fought, their team was already crippled. By now, most of the disciples alive were fighting with serious wounds, and Shi Mu was no exception. His face was smudged by blood, and a two-inch long wound on his back was a horrible sight to behold. The Golden Armor he wore inside his armor was also scratched, and raw flesh could be seen. Blood had soaked his shirt, and along his ribs and thighs one could see giant scrapes left by fingernails. But for the Rejuvenating Charm Ke Er had given to him, he would still be bleeding and might have collapsed at any moment. Currently, of the nine Totem warriors still alive, four were besieging him. Then at a dangerous juncture, Shi Mu decided to work a Golden Armour Charm, and, at lighting speed, dispatched two relatively weak enemies. Coordinated by XiaHou Xuan, who finished off several enemies in one breath, the situation was saved temporarily. But presently Shi Mu was recognized by the enemies to be the “Firing Blade”, so all the Totem warriors began to direct their full attention to him.
Although Shi Mu was still wielding his black blade with outward composure, warding off the enemies’ succeeding attacks. His inward anxiety began to take over. He threw a quick glance around him, and found, to his dismay, that XiaHou Xuan was already bathed in blood, though still managing to deal with two other Totem warriors. The other three disciples were at the brink of breakdown, one of whom had lost an arm, and was only still alive and fighting by his sheer willpower and conviction. Shi Mu burned to save his companions, but he could not extract himself from his besiegement. The barbarians making the attack had switched to a delaying tactic: for one thing, they still feared the black blade in Shi Mu’s hand. For another, they foresaw the doom of the human disciples, and, thus, were not in a hurry to finish him off.
Shi Mu was keenly aware that the three disciples would not be able to live long under the fierce attacks of the Totem warriors, at which time he and XiaHou Xuan would be left in extreme peril. He ducked another blow, and swept the opening of the vale at his back with his golden pupils. What he saw made his heart quiver. About three hundred meters away from the opening, some ten black dots were galloping toward the battlefield, looking bigger every second. His eyes gleamed gold, and, as he took a second look, he now saw that these were all Totem warriors!
Just then, two heartrending cries rang out almost at the same time. Shi Mu turned to the source of the cry and saw that XiaHou Xuan had pierced the throat of a Totem warrior with his spear, killing him on the spot. But he himself was hit in the back by a shorter barbarian with his axes, the wound so deep that white bone could be seen. Blood splattered the axes, coloring them red. Shi Mu’s heart sank, clouded by deep sorrow. The next moment, the one-armed disciple was chopped in half, and streaming blood washed his insides out. Even so, his last strike helped blind an enemy’s left eye.
The one-eyed barbarian was enraged, blood tricking down his craggy face. Looking around, he chose to vent his savage anger on XiaHou Xuan, and he stormed over to XiaHou’s back, brandishing his axes. The former was now in dire straights, fighting two brutal barbarians with anguish filling his body.
Shi Mu was also suffering. He ran his eyes over the vale, with the dire predictions of this battle hanging over his heart. Finally he made up his mind. Holding the only Golden Armour Charm in his hand. His body flashed aside abruptly, dodging a curved dagger of a tall barbarian’s to his left, and purposefully exposed himself to the bald-headed barbarian at his right flank. The bald-headed barbarian was overjoyed, his eyes glinting excitedly. His right palm was now bulking like a bear’s paw, striking at Shi Mu’s right shoulder with a howling gale. The two twin barbarians at Shi Mu’s back also would not let this ideal chance slip away; they both brandished their mantis-like arms, lifting four blades that reflected cold light, blocking Shi Mu’s route of retreat at either side.
However, Shi Mu had been expecting this. His left hand suddenly glowed gold, and he slapped his left hand onto his chest and a slim layer of golden light immediately shrouded him. At the same time, he turned, without warning, toward the twins, totally ignoring the bald-headed man. His black blade howled like a dragon amid red flames, spouting thirteen red shadows that rolled towards the enemies.
“Kill! My flames!” Just as the shadows were to clash with the twins, Shi Mu shouted, instilling his real qi into the black blade and thirteen red shadows suddenly gathered into one streak of red light, and, like lightning, it chopped at one of the twins’ head.
The clang of metal pierced their ears. The twin barbarian was in a great shock that he folded his arm in front of his chest, hoping to ward off the blade. But to no avail. His two arms were cleanly cut off, followed by a “pu” sound. It turned out that his huge head full of braids was sent flying into the air, leaving his headless body standing at the same spot, while his blood gushed out like a fountain. The whole process was done in one breath, without a single redundant movement.
But the next moment, two blade shadows and a bear paw also fell on Shi Mu. Some dull sounds rang out, and, after a frantic twinkling of golden lights, Shi Mu’s body darkened as if enveloped by some mysterious dark force. The other twin barbarian, after witnessing his brother’s tragic death, had almost lost his mind. Like a frenzied beast, he swooped down on Shi Mu, completely unaware of the latter’s movement. By now, Shi Mu’s left hand had posed into a strange posture, and a high-pitched sound shook the earth. A cloudy white ball had shot up from Shi Mu’s mouth, and within such a small distance, the twin barbarian was left no chance of surviving. Before he could even utter a cry, his chest was blast open, and he slumped down to the ground with a thud.
Almost at the same time, Shi Mu twisted his black blade, and the black shadows hit right at the bald-headed man, while his left fist simultaneously stopped the knife chopping at his waist. After this brief strike, Shi Mu and the bald-headed barbarian both stepped backward to regain their balance. Shi Mu’s face paled, and both his physical strength and magical power had reached their limits. But he dared not pause, his black blade once again held before his chest. The dark glow flashed menacingly, as if in preparation for another attack.
Finally, a gleam of fear filled the tall barbarian’s and his bald-headed companion’s eyes. The two of them exchanged a meaningful look, and steped away from Shi Mu’s blade with coordinated steps. Then they began to roam around Shi Mu at a distance of thirty meters.
Just then, a series of sad cries reverberated through the vale. Shi Mu’s heart beat rapidly, and peering to the side, he saw two other disciples lying in blood. Before they died, the two disciples had used the last of their last strength to injure a Totem warrior severely and kill another. The badly wounded Totem warrior seemed to be feeling no pain at all, still trying to strike at XiaHou Xuan’s back, forming a converging attack with the other two barbarians. XiaHou Xuan was instantly thrown into mortal danger!
Shi Mu could not stand the sight of his companions being slaughtered mercilessly any more. He stepped forward, then sprang up while swaying his blade in the air, throwing thirteen blade shadows at the injured Totem warrior who was sneaking up to attack XiaHou Xuan’s back. But the tall barbarian and the bald-headed barbarian would not let Shi Mu get his way. They roared angrily, and chased after Shi Mu.
A trace of determination flashed across XiaHou Xuan’s eyes. He knew he would never survive the battle, but he would not let go his enemies either. Seeing the three barbarians darting towards him, he snatched his spear, which suddenly emitted a black light, and traced some eerie arches in midair. He leaped to the one-eyed barbarian’s front in a second, without giving any thought to the other two enemies at his rear. Clearly he had abandoned any thought of surviving.
Boom! The injured barbarian let out a shrill cry, and two spear shadows penetrated his body. Blood spurting out from huge cuts, and he fell onto the ground, in three pieces.
Another heartrending cry! The sword in XiaHou Xuan’s hand pierced the throat of the one-eyed barbarian, but XiaHou Xuan himself was cut in half at his waist by the shorter barbarian’s axes. Blood flew from his body, along with his bowels and other organs, dying the earth red.
“Haha! Our leader Tu Yan is coming here with more of our men. Flaming Blade, your time has come!” The bald-headed man burst out laughing loudly as he made out the figures coming their way from Shi Mu’s back. The other two barbarians were also overjoyed, standing at either side of the bald-headed man, completely blocking the way to the opening of the vale.
Danger was imminent. Shi Mu heaved a sigh, and took out all the charms he had with him. His face betrayed nothing except a solemn determination. He worked his magic power, and threw out the charms - the Charm of Fireball, the Charm of Firing Snake, the Charm of Huge Rock, the Charm of Water Sword, ect.. He threw them all together at the bald-headed barbarian in the middle. At the same time, his two left fingers stirred, and shot out two silver lights that swirled while flying towards the two Totem warriors at either side of the bald-headed man. The silver light emitted a strange groan in the air. These two lights were two Moonlight Sea Chestnut Daggers that Shi Mu had just gotten from Zhao Ping!
The barbarian with the axes on his left side sneered, and rotated the axes in his right hand. The white shadows surged like waves. Fearlessly, he struck at the silver light coming his way. The tall barbarian also rushed to the other silver light, the curved dagger in his hand vibrating rapidly like a hummingbird.
Suddenly, the silver Moonlight daggers shone brightly before they reached their targets, the purple characters on their surfaces glowing brightly. The two barbarians sensed the sudden heaviness in the air, but before they could react, two tiny purple suns rose into the air simultaneously, and dazzling purple light submerged the three of them. After some deafening noises, the light receded, and the three barbarians were no longer there, leaving two combing huge pits on the ground where they had been standing.
Though he succeeded, Shi Mu dared not pause for a rest. Losing no time, he stuck another charm onto his chest, and immediately his body flew towards the opening of the vale, like a gale.