In the central area of the tribe was a broad open space. There stood an altar, which was about ten meters wide, built of some large slabs of black stone. Beside the altar stood three giant barbarians. One of them was a middle-aged, with bushy brows and a square face. From his shoulders hung a long black cloak.
Sand Girl and Sand Star briskly dismounted their horse and ran quickly to the middle-aged barbarian. The big man held his children in his arms with a happy smile, then patted them affectionately on their backs. The three then began conversing in a merry mood.
Soon the middle-aged man started to throw Shi Mu frequent looks, also looking at the Four Odd behind him. Shi Mu knew that Sand Girl and Sand Star must be recounting their adventure, telling him how Shi Mu had saved them and tamed the Four Odds.
Not surprisingly, shortly after the intimate conversation, the middle-aged barbarian walked to Shi Mu with long strides, and the smiling eyes under the black eyebrows sized Shi Mu up again. Suddenly, though only for a passing moment, his countenance changed, almost imperceptibly.
“I, Sand Sun, am the shaman of the Flying Raven Tribe. Brave Warrior Mu, thank you very much for saving my children.” The square-faced middle-aged barbarian bowed deep, with a sincere face, one hand on his chest.
On his way to the tribe, Shi Mu had learned that Sand Sun was, at the same time, this small tribe’s shaman and military leader/ He was also the strongest of the three Totem warriors in their tribe. His actual strength roughly equaled that of a Intermediate Houtian Warrior.
“Shaman, please do not be so polite!” Shi Mu returned his smile, then held out his right hand to straighten the shaman up.
Sand Sun’s eyes sharpened in amazement. The previous observation did not tell him how incredible the youth’s force was. The hand that supported him up had a terrible might that made him stand up with chills in his bones. So Sand Star was right when speaking of the youth’s tremendous force.
“Brave Warrior Mu, may I ask what have brought you here, and is there anything our Flying Raven Tribe can do for you?” Sand Sun asked earnestly, in a deep, gentle voice.
“Thank you very much, shaman. I left my tribe simply hoping to widen my experience and do some self-training. I am simply wandering, and have no set path.” Shi Mu shook his head and answered in a convincing tone of voice.
“If so, why not stay longer in our Flying Raven Tribe, and give me the opportunity to repay your kindness of saving my children? After all, I’m the leader here. How could I neglect my honorable guest?” Sand Sun laughed heartily. Then, having a look at Shi Mu’s travel-worn clothes, he suggested, “You must have had a long journey. I’ll prepare you clean water in the tent.”
“Thank you very much, shaman Sand!” Shi Mu did not decline the generous offer, nodding in an easy manner. Water was the most precious thing in this region, and he had not enjoyed a bath ever since he entered the wasteland. Furthermore, the wrestling with the Four Odds had been a strain, and his entire body poured with sweat, which was making him feel ill.
Sand Sun’s face creased into a broad smile, and soon beckoned a tribesman to water the Four Odds by the river. Then he guided Shi Mu to a nearby tent, which was made of the most exquisitely materials of any tent. This was the best tent, except the one for the shaman. Sand Star and his sister also followed them to the tent, with Sand Girl wearing a baffled face. She could not help but wonder at her father’s outpour of enthusiasm today. Though it was their tribe’s tradition to treat a guest with hospitality, her father was evidently going too far. Moreover, between the heavy bushes of his eyes, was a hint of awe, unbefitting to his position.
After a few minutes, Shi Mu was left alone in the tent. Sand Sun had exited with his children. In a relaxed mood he unfastened the weapons hung in his body, and put them in order on the table. Before long, two burly barbarians lifted in a big wooden barrel filled with lukewarm water. After the two barbarians left, he took off his clothes deftly, then bathed himself fully in the balmy water.
At the same time, in the shaman’s tent. Sand Sun was answering his children’s questions.
“Father, you are the great leader and shaman of out Flying Raven Tribe. Why do you have to be this polite to warrior Mu?” Sand Girl questioned her father with a critical flash in her eyes. Her brother also lifted his head and looked directly into his father’s eyes.
“My dear children, you are still too young and naive, so I don’t blame you for not having spotted warrior Mu’s true identity. He has a high status, and is probably a person a royal blood from some major tribe.” Sand Sun looked at his children with a pair of doting eyes, and, for a moment, there was a trace of guilt crossing them. For he knew in his heart that Sand Girl and Sand Star had a fair amount of talent at being Totem warriors, At least they would if they had not been born to this small, insignificant tribe. They would have been given better resources and had more chances to hunt fierce beasts if they were raised in other bigger tribes. However, he himself was only a low-level shaman, and not a powerful warrior either. He lacked the power to cultivate his children and make them Totem warriors.
“Royalty?” Sand Star and Sand Girl were all surprises.
“That’s right. I can sense it when speaking to him face to face. There is a powerful beast sealed inside his body. Any small tribe of average warriors would never have achieved that. Moreover, he is carrying some really powerful weapons. He must be a magic weapon above the mid-tier, and many low-level black magic weapons. Therefore, he must have been born in some big tribe. A small tribe like ours does not even hold a low-tier magic weapon, and most of our tribesman have never seen one. This confirmed my guess even more. On the other hand, warrior Mu’s cultivation is unbelievably high. As far as I’m concerned, even if all the Totem warriors in our tribe attacked together, they could not even injure him.” Sand Sun said with a sigh.
Sand Girl and Sand Star were deeply shocked by their father’s words, especially Sand Girl. The luster in her eyes dulled when she heard so.
After one hour, Shi Mu finished the bath and went out of the tent to talk with the tribesmen. When the father and his children left their tent, they saw Shi Mu engaged in conversations with some ten-odd men, who were trying their best to befriend Shi Mu, a respected guest invited by their shaman. They were asking Shi Mu to taste of their home-made milk wines and dried cheeses. In this small tribe, such food was definitely a luxury. Hence these tribesmen, who were barely managing to feed themselves, once more moved Shi Mu with their sincerity and generosity.
Shi Mu was very interested in learning some techniques for surviving in the wasteland. Therefore, he carefully led up to his favorite topic, and, in a short time, had learned the basic skills concerning finding water source and dealing with poisonous insects and beasts. To reciprocate their kindness, Shi Mu taught the barbarians how to fish. Growing up fishing, he knew a lot about catching fish, and, with some simple tools, he quickly caught many fish and shrimp in the river that ran by their tents. The tribesmen had not eaten fish for months, and this pleased the water-loving, but bad-at-swimming, barbarians very much. The fire of friendship was soon kindled.
When dusk fell, they gathered in Sand Sun’s spacious tent for a hearty meal. A whole sheep was roasted golden at one side of the tent, and the tempting smell filled the room. Sand Sun sat in the main chair at the center of the tent, beaming with a face full of smiles. Sand Girl and Sand Star sat next to Shi Mu, all on Sand Sun’s left side, opposite to two thirty-year old burly barbarians. The two were wolfing down meat with their mouths smudged with oil, mouthfuls of wine being drunk every few moments.
Shi Mu had a bite at the meat, then looked at the two happily feasting barbarians. One of them had curly golden hair, and the other looked just like any other barbarian man, with his hair braided up, and a golden earring in his right earlobe. The second man unfastened his shirt, revealing his bosom, on which was a tattoo of an aggressive-looking raven. The two of them were the only Totems warriors, save Sand Sun himself, and both were equivalent in strength to Primary Houtian Warriors.
Through the conversations he had with other tribesmen, Shi Mu got a piece of valuable information by means of indirect questioning. The barbarians, en masse, were divided into two types - the calmer Peaceful Barbarians, and the war-seeking Belligerent Barbarians. The latter were more primitive, had savage natures, and were rather bloodthirsty. They would plunder other tribes, and even conquer them. The more extreme of them even propagated the religious idea of “The Holy War”, and it was this group who had waged war against normal humans. They deemed “The Holy War” as their ultimate aim. However, the Peaceful Barbarians had a much milder disposition by contrast, and were a hospitable people. But, due to their weak bloodlines, they had a much smaller number of Totem warriors, and thus less power. Their daily activities mainly involved hunting for food. The Flying Raven was just such a tribe, and this explained why, with a population of three to four hundred people, they only had three Totem warriors.
Another thing that confused him was that in the feast people seemed rather awe-stricken in front of him, and even Sand Girl and Sand Star adopted a much more modest manner when talking with him. He tried to not let this bother him, after all, he was not planning to stay that long. However, he was not in that high of spirits, as he had that deadly curse on him. He had been in the mood to inquire of Sand Sun about the Poisonous Snake Tribe, but the chance had not come by.
Seeing that all had dined and wined to satiety, Sand Sun clapped his hands and a file of ten female barbarians entered the tent at a gentle pace. Amid the monotonous drums, the girls began performing their primitive dances.
“Shaman Sand, is your honored tribe’s totem the black ravens I saw this afternoon?” Shi Mu asked as he saw tattoos of raven on the girl’s dresses.
“Yes. At least it is currently. The ravens are a low-level beast in the wasteland, and they are quite fierce. They act in flocks, and their enemies fear them, even the average Totem warrior should be scared of them. They can dive as quick as lightning, and their beaks are as sharp as spear.” Sand Sun nodded, speaking with ease and pride.
The ravens were indeed powerful. But, in Shi Mu’s eyes, they could, at best, threaten a Primary or an Intermediate Houtian Totem warrior, and even then, they would have to act in a large number to do so.
“Is there any chance that your tribe used to have a different totem?” Shi Mu’s eyes flashed keenly, since he had heard undertones in Sand Sun’s answer.
“According to our tribe’s ancient history, we, of the Flying Raven Tribe, used to belong to a big tribe - The Golden Crow Tribe, whose secret totem art could not only seal crows and ravens, but also most bird beasts.” There was a gleam of pride in Sand Sun’s eyes as he said this, “But sadly, wars and strife made our tribe fall apart and gradually dissolve. Our Flying Raven is the only one that has survived. For decades we failed in producing a powerful shaman, and were thus unable to seal strong beasts. Alas! We did have a dream of reviving our great tribe.” Sand Sun’s eyes spoke of deep sorrow as he said so.
Sand Star and Sand Girl also fell into a depressed silence, and Shi Mu was in a loss for comforting words.
After a long while, the depressing atmosphere slowly began to lift. Shi Mu searched for words to try and ease the atmosphere faster. He then diverted the topic by asking the question that concerned him most.
“Shaman Sand. I once saw a viper’s totem, as red as blood, and the beast sealed is overwhelmingly powerful. Could your tribe’s secret art seal such a beast?” Shi Mu asked.
Translated by XianXiaWorld