"Reporting to the High Priest… the entire inventory has been calculated…" the two low-ranked Priests turned towards Bi Lige. They then greeted the High Priest and replied respectfully.
After that, they reported the number of beast souls from their respective calculations.
The fact was that a detailed calculation wasn’t required since the result was obvious to everyone.
A Xian Tian middle-stage beast soul was equivalent to ten Xian Tian primary-stage beast souls. Therefore, the peaceful side had turned the table at one fell swoop through Shi Mu’s three-headed python’s soul. In fact, they had gone far beyond the vicious barbarians.
"I declare that the four groups of the peaceful barbarians have won this competition." Bi Lige’s pale yellow eyes swept over the crowd, and fell on Shi Mu. His pupils shrank a little. Then, he turned his gaze, and announced the result.
Priest Yan Ya and others finally felt relieved. The competition had been settled since the High Priest had declared the result.
There was an unwilling expression on the faces of the vicious barbarians. But, they didn’t dare to violate the High Priest's words.
"Saintess Xiang Zhu, the barbarian alliance was dependent on the competition’s results… as per our previous agreement. So, I’m afraid that I’ll have to turn down Your Excellency's proposal," Bi Lige’s looked towards Xiang Zhu and said.
"High Priest, we had accepted this decision earlier. So, we were willing to gamble and concede the result. I guess the Lord has already decided to form an alliance with the human race. In that case… we’re foes from today onwards. Then, it would be inappropriate for us to stay here anymore. So, it’s time to say goodbye," Xiang Zhu threw a faint smile and replied in a cold tone. Then, she turned around to leave.
Bi Lige nodded, but didn’t try to stop her.
Xiang Zhu took a step forward. But then, her footsteps slowed down and she stopped. She then turned around, and started to walk towards Shi Mu.
The black armored man was walking beside her. He was startled as he saw this. A trace of astonishment crawled across his face.
Even the surrounding barbarians were surprised as they saw this. Princess Huo Wu’s delicate eyebrows creased. She glanced at Shi Mu, but didn’t utter a word.
Shi Mu looked at Xiang Zhu’s fluttering blue garment. Her steps were light, and she looked tranquil.
Xiang Zhu walked over and stood in front of him. Then, her beautiful watery eyes fell on Shi Mu’s face.
"May I know about what Saintess Xiang Zhu wants to talk to me about?" Shi Mu felt that he was being stared at by Princess Huo Wu. He then asked slowly as he looked at Xiang Zhu.
"Young Master Shi, you didn’t need to risk your life… and rescue me out of the trap at that time. Then, you saved me again in the forbidden area. I – Xiang Zhu – have engraved you in my memory." Xiang Zhu looked at him. A dim light flashed in her eyes as she said in a soft voice.
Shi Mu’s heart softened and his facial expression became gentle as he noticed her facial expression.
"It was just a coincidence. You don’t have to pay too much attention to it." Shi Mu sighed.
"The people of sea race we have to recompense any favor we receive…" Xiang Zhu shook her head and said.
Shi Mu was awestruck. Suddenly, a blue light flashed on his body. Then, the clam pearl flew out of his pocket, and fell into Xiang Zhu’s hand.
She bit her slender finger, and poured a drop of her blue blood. Her blood touched the surface of the pearl and got absorbed into it. After that, she started to mumble something. A number of blue charms appeared before her eyes. They flashed and submerged into the pearl.
Then, an extremely small blue shadow of a person emerged inside the clam pearl.
A golden gleam lit-up in Shi Mu’s eyes. His pupils swelled and shrank. The person’s shadow inside the clam pearl was clearly visible to his eyes. That character was the smaller version of Xiang Zhu.
Xiang Zhu flashed a faint smile as she handed the clam pearl over to him.
"This thing is my keepsake. Myriads of people of our races wage war against each other. If you ever bump into our people… then just show this clam pearl to them. Nobody will harm you if you do that." Xiang Zhu’s fragrant lips slightly moved. Then, a subtle voice surfaced in Shi Mu’s ear.
This made Shi Mu feel a slight chill in his heart. A startled expression appeared on his face as Xiang Zhu continued to speak, "But Young Master Shi, you try not to participate in the battle against the sea race. I don’t wish to meet you on the battlefield someday..." Xiang Zhu turned around while floating in the air as she spoke. Then, she floated away towards a distant place.
The black armored man hurriedly swayed his fish-tail as he saw this. He then started to follow her.
The escort guards of the sea race had been waiting for them in the vicinity of the mountain-valley. They welcomed Xiang Zhu, and formed a circle around her in order to ensure her protection. Then, the group started to advance towards a distant place.
Shi Mu looked at the clam pearl in his hand, and felt a burst of disappointment without any reason.
Both the peaceful and vicious barbarians were looking at Shi Mu with extreme curiosity and surprise.
Shi Mu was the bodyguard of Princess Huo Wu. He was merely an ordinary human. But, he could hunt down a Xian Tian middle-level beast in the forbidden area. Moreover, he had a connection with the Saintess of the sea race – the one that was clearly the enemy of the human race. So, it was obvious that he didn’t have a shallow background. Shi Mu had suddenly left everyone to look at him in a new light.
A trace of strange light flashed across Princess Huo Wu’s eyes as she looked at him.
She had travelled a long way with this man to arrive at that place. The strength that he exhibited had always intrigued her; regardless of his status. His mysterious character had always made her have a kind of feeling of not understanding him.
Shi Mu felt that the eyes of the surrounding people were stuck on him. But, he had no intention to return their gazes. He received the clam pearl. Then, he put on a faint smile as he turned towards Princess Huo Wu. After that, he slowly walked over and stood behind her.
"Princess Huo Wu, please move into the Holy Snow Palace. There’re some specific details related to this alliance that still need to be discussed," High Priest Bi Lige’s old voice resounded, and pulled the vision of the surrounding people.
Princess Huo Wu was delighted in her heart. But, she wore a solemn expression on her face as she nodded to Bi Lige.
The people of all the eight barbarian tribes dissipated after they had received instructions from their respective Priests. High Priest Bi Lige, Princess Huo Wu, and the remaining eight Priests arrived at the Holy Snow Palace soon after.
After that, both the sides formed the conditions of the alliance. Every factor of the alliance was argued for over the span of three days — whether it was resource compensation or other matters. Then, they reached a consensus.
Shi Mu had been following Princess Huo Wu throughout this time. He was stuck with her. So, he learnt a lot of things about her schemes, manner of speech, and other skills.
The peaceful barbarians were advocating peace. Therefore, the conditions that they put forward weren’t too severe. But, the Priests of the vicious barbarians couldn’t compromise easily; especially the Priest of the Fierce Snake Tribe – Yi He. He was the most crafty and unkind even though his words weren’t as fierce as that of the Priests of the Wild Bull Tribe and Wild Lion Tribe.
Princess Huo Wu was the only person who had to shoulder the responsibility of dealing with the Priests of the vicious barbarians. But, she confronted the aggressive attitude of the vicious barbarians without any trace of fear. Her incisive words refuted the opposite party; so much so that they were dumbstruck and unable to reply.
However, Shi Mu was most astonished by Bi Lige’s behavior. He was the leader of the barbarians. He was a very renowned person – the so-called great elder. Shi Mu had always seen him occupying the main seat. But, he bore a murky appearance on his face most of the time… as if he was an outsider who didn’t have to participate in the bilateral dispute.
Shi Mu could faintly feel the presence of the Priests of both the sides. However, the Priests were extremely respectful towards him, and didn’t dare to neglect him.
Both the sides finally reached an agreement after three days passed. They then signed the peace agreement in the Holy Snow Palace.
The human race agreed to lease out the three prefectures of the Da Qi Kingdom to the barbarians… the ones that had already been captured by them. These prefectures would be leased out for a hundred years of use. In addition, the human race also promised the delivery of some food and materials to them. Several mineral lodes of the human race had now fallen into the territory of the barbarian race. But, the barbarians would let the human race extract resources from them. The human race would offer a certain proportion of these minerals to the barbarian race in exchange for forging weapons and armor from them.
Both the sides also decided that they shall not station a large number of troops within a radius of hundred miles from the border. Moreover, both the races could set up a few trade markets on the border for mutual exchange of required products.
Princess Huo Wu and the High Priest cut their palms, and let their blood drop into the two blank places of the golden scroll. The contents of the agreement were written above the scroll.
The scroll emitted a dazzling golden light that soared and shone in the hall. The surrounding people couldn’t open their eyes for a while.
The golden light finally dissipated after a long while.
Then, the surrounding people opened their eyes. They saw that the golden scroll had already been divided into two halves. One part was in the hands of Princess Huo Wu, and the other was in High Priest’s hands.
"High Priest, your race and my race are allies from today onwards. Please keep enlightening me in the future," Princess Huo Wu got-up and spoke with courtesy.
"Your Highness, you don’t need to be so courteous." The High Priest seemed to be tired. So, he came around a big chair to take rest. He then wagged his shriveled stick and replied.
The eight Priests of the barbarian race stood behind the High Priest. They had watched the signing process of the armistice agreement. But, they had borne different expressions on their faces.
The four Priests of the peaceful tribes had a joyous expression across their faces. The Priests of the vicious tribes also bore a smiling expression on their faces, but they looked reluctant… as if they had been forced to smile.
The narrow eyes of the Priest of the Fierce Snake Tribe had a smiling expression in them. But, they looked dangerous enough to make Shi Mu feel uncomfortable.
Princess Huo Wu gazed at the calm and composed expressions of the barbarians. She knew that the vicious barbarians might be scheming in their hearts even though they had verbally conceded the armistice agreement.
But still, her mission was considered to be a success as long as the barbarians and human race were tied in a truce agreement.
"Oh… by the way… there’s one matter that I’d like to talk to the High Priest about." Princess Huo Wu felt relieved now. She turned around and looked at the Fierce Snake Tribe’s Priest. But, she quickly withdrew her eyes, and focused them on the High Priest. She then said in a respectful manner.
Shi Mu stood behind her. His eyes flashed, and his entire body shivered.
"Princess Huo Wu, please feel free to speak your mind. There’s no harm in saying what you think." The High Priest lifted his eyes. The corners of his mouth revealed a hint of smiling expression as he said in a harmonious tone.
"This person behind me is Shi Mu. He’s my bodyguard. He once encountered a night assault while he was stationed in a stronghold before he came here. He accidentally received a totem curse attack of the Fierce Snake Tribe at that time," Princess Huo Wu pointed at Shi Mu as she spoke.
Everyone present in the hall looked at Shi Mu’s body. Some of them were startled, while some of them still looked tranquil.
"I carried out an all-round investigation… and came to know about the ways to lift this curse. We’ll have to seal a more powerful beast soul on his body. As you know… we already have the beast soul. But, we don’t know the Fierce Snake Tribe’s secret totem technique. I promise to the nobility that I’ll transport increased amount of food grains; I’ll increase it by two hundred thousand Pecks in exchange for this secret technique. I look forward to your support." Princess Huo Wu paused for a while. Then, she cupped one hand across her chest in obeisance while facing the High Priest and continued to speak.
Bi Lige’s vision shifted towards Shi Mu. He then observed him with focused eyes.
Shi Mu felt a slight chill in his heart. He felt as if his body was being defiled by the ignorant eyes of the High Priest. He was struck by a strange feeling. He felt as if all his secrets would be seen by him.
The High Priest soon retrieved his eyes. This made Shi Mu feel a bit relaxed. But, the cold sweat was still dripping from his back.