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"Two-hundred-thousand Pecks of grains…" the High Priest murmured to himself; it seemed as if he was considering something.

"High Priest, the totem technique is the foundation of the barbarian tribes. How can we teach it to the human race?" the Fierce Snake Tribe’s Priest Yi He spoke-up as he noticed that the High Priest was considering the Princess’s offer.

The other Priests of the vicious tribes also chimed-in with him.

"Yi He, I know what you’re thinking. The origin of the battlefield doesn’t have to be right or wrong… as both sides have to put their lives on the line in order to fight. This kind of hatred isn’t good in the long run. Several tribes of our race are running short of clothes and food these days. This two-hundred-thousand Pecks of rations and fodder can help several of them to be saved from the pain of starvation. So, you should attach more importance to the general situation than other things." The High Priest’s eyes turned and fell on Yi He. Then, he said slowly.

The High Priest started at Yi He in such a manner that his entire body quivered. A weird expression spread across his face.

"This... since the High Priest says so… this subordinate ought to comply with it. But, this Shi Mu has killed many people of our race; he’s a murderer. The people of our tribe will come to know that I shared my tribe’s secret totem technique with him. And, I’m afraid that it’ll lead to dissatisfaction amongst them. It’ll become extremely difficult to convince the public," Yi He’s eyes whirled as he explained in an embarrassed tone.

"Priest Yi He’s words are reasonable. But, I wish to know your opinion… Can we satisfy both the sides?" the High Priest said after a momentary hesitation.

"Little Brother Shi Mu wants to know the secret totem technique of my race. In that case… we must depend on the true ability of the person to acquire it as per the ways of our race. But, this opportunity can’t be given free of cost. We’ll consider two-thousand Pecks of grains as the price," the respectful expression from Yi He's face disappeared as he spoke in an unflustered tone.

"It doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You can go ahead as long as Princess Huo Wu promises to comply with it." Bi Lige pondered for a while. Then, he nodded and said.

"I don’t know what Princess Huo Wu thinks about it… whether she’ll be willing to provide two-thousand Pecks of food in exchange for this opportunity or not." Yi He’s eyes shot a glance at Shi Mu as he heard the High Priest’s reply. He then said to Princess Huo Wu.

"I’ve already pledged the grains. So, I can’t go back on my promise. But still… I ask Priest Yi He to speak his mind. Also, I hope that the High Priest would preside over the justice," Princess Huo Wu’s graceful eyebrows creased as she replied while looking at the High Priest.

"Hehe… Your Majesty can feel relieved because I – Yi He – am always fair with my work. Moreover, my race venerates the strong. So, Shi Mu will have to participate in the ‘competition of blood enemies’ against a totem warrior of my tribe. The previous grudges will be forgotten from our side if he wins. Then, I’ll share my race’s secret totem technique with him. But, this secret technique is my tribe’s secret information. So, he must sign the pledge of my tribe… and swear that this is just for his own learning… and he can’t share it with any other person," Yi He spoke-up with a smile before the High Priest could say anything.

Shi Mu’s eyebrows wrinkled as he heard this. But still, he got-up in a nonchalant manner.

"May I ask Priest Yi He if Shi Mu’s strength will be inferior to your noble totem warrior… and what will happen if Shi Mu loses the competition?" Princess Huo Wu knitted her eyebrows as she asked.

"Hehe… Shi Mu must leave the three-headed python’s soul behind if he loses," Yi He smiled and replied.

Shi Mu raised his eyebrows. He then stepped forward before the Princess could say anything, and said, "Well… I promise that I’ll participate in this competition."

The other seven Priests were also watching this scene in the main hall. But, all of them had different expressions on their faces. The Priests of the vicious tribes looked at Shi Mu with a ridiculing expression.

"Good! Little brother Shi Mu is quite frank and straightforward. The sooner the date… the better. So, should we start right away?" Yi He laughed as he suggested.

"Wait a moment. May I ask Priest Yi He who is that totem warrior that the Fierce Snake Tribe intends to send against Shi Mu?" Princess Huo Wu frowned as she asked.

Yi He chuckled and clapped his hands. He then waved his hand in a certain direction. A person walked out from the crowd of the Fierce Snake Tribe that had gathered in the main hall.

He was the thin and tall youth who had hunted a Xian Tian level beast in the forbidden area. He gazed at Shi Mu with gloomy and cold eyes, and licked his lips.

Shi Mu felt a chill in his heart. Suddenly, a turbulent and invisible murderous aura hit him. But, why would he care about this warrior if he had already faced a middle-stage Xian Tian beast? Shi Mu’s facial expressions remained unchanged as he gazed at the totem warrior.

The trace of an unbelievable look appeared on the youth’s face, and his pupils shrank.

Both of them looked at each other. Then, they took a few steps forward, and advanced outside the main hall.

After some time… in the public square in front of the Holy Snow Palace…

Hundreds of barbarians had gathered around a dozen or more feet wide arena to cheer-up the warriors. Majority of them were soldiers who were on rest on that day. A few low-ranked Priests and attendants of the Holy Mountain were also there. They rushed over to enjoy the fight as soon as they heard the news.

The days in the Holy Palace were dull and ordinary without any excitement. This sort of a ‘competition of blood enemies’ was a rare event; especially one that involved the legendary totem warrior – Wu Li of the Fierce Snake Tribe. Therefore, everyone was brimming with excitement.

"Wu Li defeated the Wild Bull Tribe’s Mang Xiong with just three moves around two years ago. Mang Xiong was then considered to be the strongest among the strong. The warriors below the Xian Tian level are no match for Wu Li. But, we can feast our eyes for the time being," a barbarian soldier looked towards the ring and said with a thrilled expression on his face; he was wearing the Wild Lion Tribe’s uniform.

"Yes, I happened to be present on the day of the competition. Mang Xiong was almost as good as primary-level Xian Tian warrior in those days. This human is very unlucky," another soldier nodded in agreement.

"Of course! The soul of a several decades old and rare snake of the forbidden area is sealed inside Wu Li’s body. That soul helped him to break through the Hou Tian Consummate stage right after it was sealed inside his body. Since then… not a single primary-stage Xian Tian warrior had been able to hurt him," a uniformed barbarian soldier of the Fierce Snake Tribe spoke-up with an air of complacency.

These three people’s words stirred-up the surrounding people, and made them chime-in with them; especially a vicious barbarian named Chong Wu. This man worshipped Wu Li for being a glorious and illustrious hero.

"Well… I‘m afraid you’ll be disappointed this time. Haven’t you heard anything? This human ambassador had hunted down a three-headed python in the forbidden area of the Portal of the Brave Warriors. That python was a Xian Tian middle-stage beast. I admit that Wu Li is an unparalleled warrior. But, is he more powerful than a three-headed python?" a peaceful barbarian of the Golden Feather Tribe said with a sneer.

"Tsk… tsk… How can a Hou Tian level warrior slaughter a three-headed python? His luck would’ve greatly favored him… or he would’ve bumped into a severely injured python…" a low-ranked vicious Priest of the Wild Lion Tribe said scornfully.

"I’m afraid that it’s true… More than half of the vicious barbarians who entered into the forbidden area didn’t return. They may’ve died while fighting with this python. Then, this human must’ve taken advantage of it."

"Correct! I’ve heard that this human is merely at the Hou Tian middle stage. So, surviving in the forbidden area wouldn’t have been easy for him. I also heard that this human didn’t have any other beast soul apart from that three-headed python’s soul."

*** ***

In the ring…

Shi Mu stood firm with the black blade in his hand. He had turned a deaf ear to the surrounding discussions. He sized-up the man who stood before him with a serene look on his face.

The totem warrior in front of him had a bare upper body, and had a huge red python totem on his chest. There were several knife-cut scars on his face. A confident look could be seen on his face… as if had the experience of several battles. There was a long machete in his hand; numerous magical characters were engraved on its surface.

"I’m Wu Li – the most respected warrior. Your Excellency had killed a three-headed python in the forbidden area. I truly admire it," Wu Li’s eyes flared-up as he said.

"An erroneous praise..." Shi Mu replied lightly.

A fierce look flashed across Wu Li’s eyes as he noticed that Shi Mu didn’t wish to speak much.

There was a twenty feet high expansive platform in the arena near the ring. It was made-up of white stone.

The eight Priests had occupied their respective seats on the platform; they were seated in a row. The four peaceful barbarian Priests were brimming with happiness. But, the Priests of the vicious barbarians – apart from Priest Yi He – looked absent-minded. It seemed as if their minds had been occupied with their own thoughts.

The High Priest Bi Lige was seated on the middle and the most spacious seat. It seemed as if he was lying down and resting. Princess Huo Wu’s seat had been arranged on his left side.

Yi He got-up and took two steps forward as he noticed that Shi Mu was prepared. Then, he shot a glance at Wu Li and Shi Mu before he made a loud announcement, "Both of you – listen! The competition of blood enemies is about to begin. As you know… the sword doesn’t have eyes… So, admit your defeat as soon as possible if any one of you feels that you’re no match for the opposite party. Otherwise, life and death are ruled by the fate. The competition begins now!"

Shi Mu’s eyes flared-up as he heard these words. Then, he stomped his right foot on the ground and fired his body – as if an arrow had been shot from a bow-string. His right hand waved at the same time, and shot thirteen black blade-shadows towards Wu Li.

Wu Li sneered. The red python totem on his chest beamed with a bright-red light. Several egg-sized red scales burst out over his body the next moment. A faint layer of a hazy halo could be seen glowing on them.

The charm characters engraved on his machete radiated a blue light. Then, they started to wriggle. A big ball of blue light soon shrouded the machete.

After that, Wu Li dashed towards Shi Mu. He raised his machete at the same time. A blue shadow fled, and greeted Shi Mu’s blade shadows – like a blue tornado.

A strange look flashed across Wu Li’s eyes as he noticed that both sets of shadows were about to collide. Suddenly, he changed the direction of his machete, and slid the blue light towards Shi Mu to chop him down. He had ignored his defense in this process.

The blue light of his machete rushed towards Shi Mu with an incredible speed. It looked like a bolt; it didn’t give any room to Shi Mu to evade the attack.

Princess Huo Wu’s expressions changed. She didn’t wish any side to suffer any loss. But now, she was worried about Wu Li’s speed. Shi Mu’ speed couldn’t be compared with his.

A trace of happiness appeared in Yi He’s eyes as he saw this.

The powerful beast soul within Wu Li’s body was extremely difficult to deal with. Moreover, Yi He knew that Shi Mu didn’t possess the Xian Tian level strength. So, it was impossible for him to break Wu Li’s defense.

Several other vicious barbarians exposed a trace of happiness on their faces. The expressions of the peaceful barbarians’ Priests – including Yan Ya – remained unchanged. They continued to wear the same smiling expression on their faces.

The truce agreement between the two races had already been signed-off. So, they didn’t care about the life or death of an ordinary bodyguard of any race. In fact, they wouldn’t care even if it was the blood of a human ambassador. In fact, Shi Mu’s defeat could slightly reduce the hatred between the peaceful and vicious barbarians. So, they would be glad to see it happen.

Several vicious barbarians stood around the ring. Their eyes were blazing with excitement. They remembered that Mang Xiong was a Hou Tian Consummate-stage warrior. But, he had been trapped by Wu Li’s same ‘neither side wins’ fighting method. After that, he had been terribly crushed by Wu Li in just three strokes. This human was just a Hou Tian advanced-stage warrior. So, he wasn’t any match for Wu Li.

In fact, several peaceful barbarians clapped their hands to applaud Wu Li for his splendid and ruthless attack.

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