“The barbarians must have a comprehensive plan, since they dared to march so deep behind our lines and attack our stronghold. We cannot rely on Master Fang to rescue us this time.” Shi Mu shook his head.
“So…” Hearing these words Feng Li felt his heart was as heavy as a stone.
“No time to talk now, it’s dangerous to stay here. Let’s move!” Shi Mu said brusquely, striding forward.
Feng Li nodded and followed closely, not saying a word.
“Brothers! Please wait!”The sound of hurried steps came from behind, and the Adepts that had been with them previously emerged, still trembling with fear.
Shi Mu frowned anxiously and reluctantly stopped.
“Brother Shi, can we follow you?” A young man wearing clothes of the Ethereal Phoenix Sect pleaded, his face deadly pale as he saw the mutilated bodies lying desolate on the ground. The others echoed eagerly and cast beseeching looks toward Shi Mu. These charm Adepts had been living peaceful lives under the protection of their sects, hence their lack of experiences of real fighting. They had definitely not fought with barbarians on bloody battlefields. But their eyesight had not faded. While panicking in the chaos, they had clearly seen how Shi Mu reacted when the barbarians raided their stronghold. Therefore, they clung to Shi Mu, as if he was a heavenly savior.
Shi Mu’s quickly looked over them, and a hint of embarrassed hesitation crossed his eyes. These people had not experienced actual combat and could probably not even put up a fight when meeting with the barbarians. As a matter of fact, without their charms they were no better than children, and to flee with them would be a most unwise choice. But after all, they had lived in the same stronghold, which made it too difficult to refuse them.
“Brother Shi, we are, after all, companions. Just take them. We can use them as a shield in the case of danger…” Feng Li came near and suggested this in an awkward tone, lowering his voice toward the end of his statement.
Shi Mu shook his head in disapproval, then looked at the others and, in an encouraging tone, said, ” If you want to go, just follow me, but you can only rely on yourselves when we fight with the barbarians.”
The Adepts were all very glad and nodded briskly and, thus, these people followed Shi Mu. Before long the group had come across a split in the path.
“Brother Feng, now you go first.” Shi Mu said.
Feng Li nodded and waited for a second before he went into the left pathway. Shi Mu followed him without any hesitation. Though the others felt this was quite strange, they said nothing and continued to follow the two closely.
The Rat Nest was not a big stronghold, but it had many other small passages, besides the four main passages, which lead toward the exits to the stronghold. They had probably been built for times such as this. With Feng Li leading the way, they made many detours and gradually approached the north exit. They had met a few barbarians on the way, but they were killed by Shi Mu’s black blade and the Adepts’ charms, so the group passed through without meeting any real danger.
After a quarter of an hour, Shi Mu halted for a breath, leaning on a stone wall. They were only a few steps away from the north exit of the stronghold. He stepped back after glancing outside the exit. There were some tall figures walking back and forth, which seemed to be the barbarians on guard.
“They have thirteen men. Except for the two senior Houtian warriors, the others are all just primary or junior stage Practitioners.” Feng Li stood near him and whispered in a low voice. He had just spent some time sensing the barbarians with his eyes shut.
Shi Mu’s face showed a little surprise. Feng Li could, unexpectedly, sense the number of the barbarians, as well as their strength, at a short distance!
“Step back now.” He waved his hand and they retreated back to the secret passage.
Shi Mu pat on the wall and then a crack appeared on it, through which they edged their way inside before closing it again. Inside was a small room, used for storing odds and ends for the stronghold, and it was too remote for the barbarians to find in a short time.
The other Adepts were waiting here, and they gathered around their leaders as soon as they came in.
“Brother Shi, how is the front exit?” A young man in green asked.
Shi Mu told them about the condition of the exit, which made them feel great amounts of fear.
“Now we can only fight for our way out.The noise of fighting is fading and the longer we stay here, the more dangerous it will be.” Feng Li made a quick analysis. The others looked at each other and nodded helplessly.
“Well, the barbarians have the advantage in number, so we must decide our tactic.” Shi Mu said seriously.
Just then, the door of the room cracked with a loud noise and a green figure jumped in. The man was wearing barbarian clothes and a fur mask on his face. He seemed to be surprised when he saw Shi Mu and his companions.
The next moment, a cold light shone, and a sword stabbed mercilessly towards the unexpected visitor. Feng Li had launched an attack. The man was caught off guard, and the distance was so short that he couldn’t dodge the attack. But just as the man was to be killed by Feng Li, a black blade appeared suddenly and warded off the sword in Feng Li’s hand.
“Wait, brother Feng, he is not a barbarian, he is just disguised as one.” Shi Mu grabbed Feng Li’s wrist and spoke rapidly. Hearing the Shi Mu’s resolute voice, the others, who were jumping to their feet and drawing their weapons, also stopped their movements.
“Brothers, it’s me.” The man pulled down his mask, revealing a familiar face. He was none other than Mountain Green.
“You are brother Green!” Feng Li was dumbstruck, putting down his sword. The others also withdrew their weapons, feeling at ease.
“Brother Shi has such a good eyesight or I have died wrongly.” Mountain Green closed the door behind him and said, forcing a smile.
“Brother Green wore the clothes of the barbarians but did not change his shoes, and if you are really a barbarian, Brother Feng will know.” Shi Mu said slowly.
Feng Li blushed as he heard the words. He had been too nervous just now, so he attacked once he saw the clothes of barbarian, totally forgetting to consult his special ability. Mountain Green wore a curious look upon hearing these words, and looked at Feng Li suspiciously, wondering what Shi Mu meant.
“Well, that’s not important. Brother Green also intends to escape from the north exit of the stronghold, right?” Shi Mu let out a dry cough and diverted to another topic.
“Yes, I have just checked out the situation. It seems that there are quite a lot Totem warriors guarding the exit. It is not easy for us to escape.” Mountain Green sighed and put on a forced smile.
“We had just planned to rush out from the exit. Do you want to join us?” Shi Mu suggested, without any hesitation.
Mountain Green frowned at the kind-hearted suggestion and showed hesitation on his face.
“If brother Green has another plan, it doesn’t matter. We can just take action separately.” Seeing Mountain Green’s expression, though a little surprised, Shi Mu spoke even more decisively. As Mountain Green was just a Adept Scholar, his participation would not affect the result.
“Thanks for brother Shi’s understanding!” Mountain Green could only replied with an embarrassed smile, standing aside and blankly looking at Shi Mu discussing with the others.
“Remember, we must use as many charms as possible when rushing out. We have to disorder them. It depends on our luck whether we can escape or not.” Shi Mu said quickly.
Now they only had no other methods but to throw the enemies into a total disorder and seize the chance to rush out.
The others nodded and clutched all their charms in their hands, wearing surprisingly resolute faces.
“Let’s go!” Shi Mu opened the stone door and they stepped out.
“Wait, brother Shi, I want to go with you.” Mountain Green caught up with them and said, his eyes glistening, as if he had made a final decision.
“Why did you suddenly change your mind? Nevermind, we do not have the time now. You know what we’ve decided, if you have any good charms, just take them out.” Shi Mu shook his head and did not ask more.
Mountain Green sighed and nodded, picking out two charms that were shining with green light. Characters were interwoven each other on them, forming a shape that looked like a green tornado. Shi Mu looked at the green charms in Mountain Green’s hand, feeling they looked strange to his eyes. But, considering the conditions, he would not ask him, and turned his body to lead the others to rush toward the exit.
Rounding the bend, Shi Mu shouted and stamped on the ground, shooting out like a shadow, flitting through the air at high speed. Meanwhile, he waved his hand and hurled six charms, which transformed into six firing snakes, each about one meter long, that stirred up hot winds and exploded into a torrents of fire, which fell on the barbarians near the exit.
These were Firing Snake charms, one of the few kinds of low-level charms that could attack a wide area. Mountain Green also threw out the two green charms in his hand, and, as green lights glared, two tornados emerged in mid air, quickly combining into one, rapidly expanding, and flying towards the exit, like a huge monster roaring. Where the wind passed, stones broke and were swept up into the wind, widening the passage ahead.
“The middle-level charm, Tornado!”
All the other disciples were cheering at the sight of such a powerful charm, and, thus, began to throw out all kinds of charms at the barbarians. In a short time, fire balls, icicles, and lightning bolts broke out, like a driving rainstorm.
The barbarians guarding the exit were taken unprepared at the hail of charms, and before they could strike a counter-blow they had already been drowned by the charms, lost in gales, fireballs, and snowstorms.
In the danger, all the barbarians were shocked and began to activate their totem magic, their bodies transforming into various monsters.
Though the charms had surprised and slightly wounded the barbarians, these low-level charms did not have enough power to badly wound them, unless they hit the vital organs. But it was enough. All the barbarians had been thrown into chaos, and their formation was messed up.
Shi Mu seized the chance and rushed out for the exit. But, at just the same time, a blood red spear stabbed out of the smoke toward Shi Mu’s chest, like a poisonous snake. The spear came so fast that it was in Shi Mu’s face is a split-second.
Shi Mu was shocked, but he acted nimby. He paused his movement, then stamped on the ground, his arm twisted, and struck the right side of the spear with his elbow, creating a sound like thunder.
A loud, dull noise resounded, and the spear bounced off, as if it had been hit by some massive object.
There came a surprised shout from the smoke and then the spear started shaking, transforming into several blood-red shadows, which struck back at Shi Mu’s chest and lower abdomen.
Shi Mu sneered coldly, and his eyes shone with golden light. He punched out fiercely toward one of the spear shadows.