“Let’s move, this is not a safe place. I’ll take you back to the tribe.” Glancing back in the direction where the wolf soldiers had fled, Shi Mu urged the captives forward.
“Brave warrior Mu, What’s our tribe like... now?” A woman asked hesitatingly.
The question was one that many of them wanted to know the answer to. The captives quickly cast their apprehensive and expectant eyes at Shi Mu. He didn’t know how to answer them. After some thought, Shi Mu gave the poor homeless barbarians a brief recount of what had happened after they were taken prisoner.
The news met a momentary brooding silence, after which those tightened faces began to clear. Shi Mu did not understand this initially, but soon he was enlightened. Though the original tribe had been exterminated, they still had hope, as Sand Girl was named the tribe’s shaman. Their home could be rebuilt. For these barbarians, who had been raised in extremly squalid conditions, having a home to go to is a blessing.
The grueling trudge and the outrage conducted by the Heavenly Wolf Tribe had made the women and children exhausted. And many of them had serious wounds. For their sake, Shi Mu ditched some goods and materials to make sure each wounded person would have an animal to ride on. Thus, they made way for the Black Raven Tribe....
Several days later, the great team arrived home, where Sand Girl and the other survivors had been waiting. From there, Shi Mu led them on to the Tribe of Tu Huo, which Sand Sun had indicated at his deathbed. After seeing the matter trhough, Shi Mu said his farewells to the Black Raven people and left.
[TL: I really liked Sand Girl. I was hoping she could have stayed with Shi Mu...But this is a story replete with heroines...So sad]
In a different area of the vast, yet dull, wasteland.
A team of some ten barbarian riders were plodding forward against the dusty wind, the hooves of their rides never once pausing in their westward journey.
By the barbarian’s standards, these riders would be considered small. Apart from some bone-made weapons hanging from the reins of their horses, the ones they held in their hands were uniformly made of iron.
In the forefront of this group, three barbarian riders were side by side. The two on the sides were powerfully-built men, whereas the girl sandwiched in the middle looked rather frail. However, it could be faintly felt that the girl was the real leader of their group.
She had fine, delicate features, and looked to be around twenty. She was wearing a jacket made of leopard’s hide. The horse bumped along the sandy path, so all the while her braided hair moved up and down in mid air. Her complexion was not on the fair side, but her winged brows suggested experience and a heroic spirit. She held her back perfectly straight as she sat on the horse’s back.
“Sister, according to the map, we’ll soon reach the territory of the Dagger Bull Tribe. Shall we bypass them?” On the left flank, a big young man suddenly tilted his head to the girl and inquired cautiously. He had rather heavy features with a pair of alert eyes.
“No need. We don’t have all day. Enough time has been wasted just to bypass the previous belligerent tribes. The Dagger Bull tribe is relatively peace-loving, and they hold no grudges against us humans. It won’t be a problem as long as we act low profile.” The girl in the jacket shook her head disapprovingly, her face seemed capable and experienced which greatly contrasted her age.
The big youth answered, and was just about to turn his head back when the girl’s voice resounded again, “Brother Leng[A], we haven’t come across any water for seven or eight days. I’m afraid we’re running out of drinkable water. Please go and look if there is any water nearby.” Her voice sounded soft but potent.
“Hehe, rest assured, sister! The map says there’s a small lake ahead, not a large distance from here. It’s the largest water source in this area. I’ll be very quick.” The youth named Leng put on a confident smile, then gripped his horse’s reins, which neighed loudly and galloped forward at full speed. In the next moment the youth and his horse were out of sight, leaving a large could dust floating along the trail.
Shortly afterwards, a deep voice appeared by the girl’s ear,
“Your Highness, in your opinion, how much confidence do we have in winning the peace talk with the barbarians?”
On the right flank, a middle-aged man goaded his horse near the princess and asked in a low, reverberating voice. He had a craggy face, and was holding a long-handled axe in his one hand. The qi he emitted was overpowering, reminiscent of his Xiantian realm strength.
“The Belligerent Barbarians wants war, whereas the Peaceful Barbarians would prefer to have a truce. In this situation, the Great Shaman becomes immensely significant. General Zhang[B], please have more patience. We’ll see when we arrive at the Holy Mountain. But personally, I’d rather believe the barbarians would not let the Sea-Dwellers profit from the warfare between us. It’s only that, even if a truce could be established, we, of the Heavenly Qi Country, will probably not get our three fortresses back anytime soon.” The girl in the jacket analyzed with a cool face, only sighing regretfully at the end.
General Zhang echoed gloomily, increasing his grasp of the long-handled axe, and did not make any return comment. The girl in the jacket urged her horse forward steadily, looking up at the murky sky. Her beautiful, but cool, eyes were shimmering, but her inner thoughts were completely concealed.
After a quarter of an hour, the youth named Leng returned, with the information about the lake’s specific location. Under the princess’s order, the group of riders steered their course and headed towards the lake.
Bit by bit, the monotone scenery of the sandy land began to get replaced with patches of green grass. Eventually, the patches joined to be an unbroken land carpeted with vibrant grass.
Soon, a smooth, mirror-like lake, which was about thirty meters wide, showed itself before the water-seekers. The travelers, all fatigued from their journey, got refreshed instantly upon seeing this tranquil, clear lake. Most of them could not wait but ride swiftly to the lake, drawing their skin canteens and charging forward. The girl in the jacket and her two guards lagged behind, continuing at an unhurried pace, as if engaged in a discussion.
Just then, something unexpected happened!
With a resounding noise the water rippled. First, water rippled in the center of the lake, then a water column, some three meters wide, erupted violently, as if a whale was blowing beneath. The water column leaped up until it was as high as fifteen meters. In the wake of this giant fountain, a masked young man with a green whip in his hand appeared on the top, where the foam of breaking waves was swirling violently. The mask he wore had a design of a ferocious silver shark on it, and the man’s aura was rather supercilious. He stood there, like a sculpture, overlooking the crowd with a pair of frosty eyes.
Also, the minute he made himself seen, a mountainous wave surged skyward, with the man as the center, blotting out the heavens and rushing toward the land. The lake, which was only thirty meters wide, soon caved in several meters deep, as if rolled by a giant hand. The people present all shuddered in cold and terror. The air felt dense and suffocating. It was filled with killing intent.
The youth named Leng and General Zhang’s expressions quickly changed, and they began shaking with fright. They were quite aware that such a horrible murderous qi would beat all Xiantian saints, however powerful one was. This suspicious Sea-Dweller-looking man must be at the level of an Earth-grade Saint!
The girl in the jacket was also shivering uncontrollably, but she quickly regained her poise. She freed the rein in her hand, and stepped forward to salute the mysterious man after the barbarian’s fashion - one hand at the bosom, and a deep bow. This done, she questioned with a calm face, “Respected Sea-Dweller saint, we are riders of the Green Teeth Tribe. If you kill us barbarians indiscriminately, war between our people and your people may occur. Doesn’t this seem unwise to you?”
The princess’ gentle voice brought her comrades back to life. They had almost forgotten that they were barbarians in disguise right now.
The princess certainly attracted the masked man’s attention. He swept her with his cold eyes, and there was a hint of surprise when he saw who she was. But this only aroused his condescension and disdain.
Subsequently, he raised slowly the green whip in his hand. The magical characters immediately glared, emitting dazzling green lights.
“No! Leng YingJie, protect the princess, and you two, hurry away!” General Zhang shouted anxiously. The next moment, he sprang up high into the air, hacking at the man’s mask with all his strength.
Crack! A giant, red axe, formed with real qi, suddenly emerged in the air. Meanwhile, the air hissed and whistled loudly. A dozen bone spears pierced through the air darting towards the masked man. However, the latter simply stretched out his left hand, and a flood of green lights streamed out from his hand, diffusing in all directions to form a green light shield around his body. The shield was almost transparent, like a green gauze.
Soon a chain of “puffing” sounds was heard, as the furious spears, once touching the light mask, lost their vitality and turned to ashes in a blink of an eye. And the blood-red giant axe shared the same fate. After striking the shield, it burst into a cloud of blood fog, which then dispersed into the air.
The girl in the jacket mounted her horse promptly the moment General Zhang ordered her to leave. By the time the first round of attacks had finished, she had run some thirty meters, with the youth named Leng following her closely. The silver spear in his hand glittered and flashed, ready to ward off any blow that might obstruct the princess’s retreat.
“Well, what’s the fun in leaving now that you’ve all come so far!” The masked man thundered. Then he flipped his wrist, and a the long green whip began to coil up in the air, quickly forming a green vortex of real qi. From the depths of the vortex came hisses, resembling that of a snake’.
Not unexpectedly, large green snakes, each as long as fifteen meters, poured out of the vortex. Strictly speaking, they could, at best, be said as snake-like beasts, since they had a pair of wings on their backs. Upon their emergence, the beasts swooped down on the human riders at an alarming speed. The green light only flashed a moment before they had neared their prey.
A primary Houtian warrior in the ambassador group let out an infuriated shout, while the long blade in his hand gave the beast a good cut. However, the green snake acted like a heavenly animal, dodging the attack with extreme dexterity. The next moment, it flashed forward, sinking into the warrior’s chest.
There came a dull thud, and then the warrior’s body exploded, his blood showering down on the land.
This scene repeated with some of the other ten warriors of the ambassador group. After the green snake sunk into their bodies, they instantly blossomed into blood flowers in mid air. For some time the air smelled fishy, and streams of blood started to flow across the earth.
At this moment, only General Zhang, who was a primary Xiantian saint, held on a little longer. The long-handled axes in his hands being swung vigorously, leaving blood-red colored traces in the air. He had managed to prevent a snake from entering his body, whereas other warriors all died within a breath!
Meantime, two more green snakes trailed the princess and her young guard closely. They had not made it much further.
Seeing this, the youth named Leng was startled, but only for a moment. He turned back to look at the girl in the jacket, and then the last traces of hesitation vanished from his eyes.
The silver spear in his hand suddenly glared like a small sun. The magical characters on the spear dancing wildly.
Boom! The silver spear exploded, turning into countless silver light spots which then joined to be a silver flame that greeted one of the green snakes.
At the same time, blood rushed to his face. Then he yelled, and threw himself down on the other snake.
The earth shook. Subsequently, an invisible vapor wave surged violently towards the princess. Meanwhile, three light beams were illuminated simultaneously - one blood-red, one silver, and the other green. Amid the glaring lights, a green snake - now much diminished in size - rushed out and darted towards the princess, like a thunderbolt. Whereas where the youth named Leng had landed was now empty save for a pool of blood. The tall young man was nowhere to be found.
[A] Leng: a random Chinese surname. The young man’s full name is Leng Yingjie, as can be seen later. Yingjie means gallantry. Here Leng Yingjie calls the princess “sister”, because they two are disciples of the same sect. Therefore Leng Yingjie can be less inhibited with the princess.
[B] Zhang is a random Chinese surname. General Zhang probably serves the Qi court, and guards the princess on behalf of Qi the Heavenly Country. His full name is not given.