"Yes… I’ve removed the totem curse… just the way you told me. Many thanks to Brother Feng for helping me," Shi Mu nodded and replied.
Traces of surprise flashed across Feng Li’s eyes. Then, he said in a humble manner, "Oh, by the way…"
Shi Mu felt emotionally moved. He then took out a small thing wrapped in a piece of cloth from his bosom.
"This necklace belongs to Brother Feng. Now, the human and barbarian races have formed an alliance. So, I’ve no reason to keep this thing with me. I was planning to go to the Black Turtle Sect to find you. But, I found you here. So, I’m giving this back to you now," he said. He then handed over the piece of cloth to Feng Li without opening it.
"So, tell me… did the human and barbarian races really sign the cease-fire agreement? So, the rumor is indeed true…" Feng Li mumbled to himself in a low voice. He then reached out, and accepted the piece of cloth from Shi Mu.
Shi Mu saw that Feng Li’s expression had become a little sad. He sighed in his heart; he didn’t know what to say.
Feng Li’s face looked blank. He opened-up the piece of cloth, took out the necklace and wore it around his neck. Then, he turned around in an absent-minded manner, and started to walk towards a distant place.
"Brother Feng, are you going back to the Black Turtle Sect?" Shi Mu asked after a little hesitation.
"I’ll not go back." Feng Li stopped walking. He then said in a dull voice without turning around.
Shi Mu had heard Feng Li’s words despite his dull voice. His voice contained a deep disappointment towards the Union of the human race.
"I joined the Black Turtle Sect to take revenge from the barbarian race… The barbarian race is brutal and cruel. Brother Shi, you must’ve seen with your own eyes how they treat the human race at the frontier. I’d never thought even in my dreams that the Union would reconcile with the barbarian race," Feng Li’s voice shivered as he said with clenched fists.
"The situation had become quite threatening as the sea race was ready to fight with the human race in the East China Sea. The humans were surrounded by enemies from both the sides. We – the seven Sects and the Da Qi Kingdom – couldn’t withstand them. People would’ve been in a terrible situation when the time came. So, the Union had no other choice," Shi Mu said in a heavy tone.
"I hate the barbarian race… no matter what. We can’t live under the same sky. Now, I can’t stay with the Black Turtle Sect as the Union has reconciled with the barbarian race," Feng Li said with a bitter smile. He then turned his head.
"Brother Feng, what are you planning to do?" Shi Mu asked.
"Planning? I’ll go to the central continent." Feng Li looked-up; his face revealed a fierce expression.
"Central continent!" Shi Mu was astonished.
He had heard about this place before. The area of the Da Qi kingdom, Yan nation and Huang nation was expansive. And, the western side of these kingdoms didn’t share border with the barbarian wasteland. But, these areas were only a part of the eastern portion of the Dongzhuo continent.
The area of the Dongzhuo continent was thousands time wider than the area of the eastern peninsula. This place was said to be the Holy Land of practicing arts. This place was also the origin of the human race. In fact, that area was ten times more flourishing and lively than the peninsula of the seven sects’ alliance.
In fact, Shi Mu had once heard that the Black Demon Sect was also a mere sub-branch of the Heavenly Demon Sect of the central continent.
"The central continent is extremely lively and flourishing. But, I’ve heard that we would’ve to pass through severe natural barriers and incomparable danger if we were to go there from here. There isn’t any certainty of the success for even a Xian Tian Warrior," Shi Mu said.
"Thank you for your concern, Brother Shi. But, I’ve some plans. How would I take revenge in the future if I wouldn’t even be able to overcome the difficulties in this path?" Feng Li replied in a firm tone.
"Brother Feng, I see that you loathe the barbarian race. When I went to the barbarian wasteland… I found that majority of the barbarian people are peaceful. They hate wars… and long for peace. The war will only bring endless slaughtering," Shi Mu looked towards Feng Li and said slowly.
"Hehe… it seems that you’re speaking in favor of the barbarian race. I’ve experienced more life than you, Brother Shi. You don’t need to persuade me," Feng Li said in an unconcerned manner.
"By the way… what’s the history of your necklace? The High Priest of the Barbarian Race – Bi Lige seemed to be very concerned about this thing." Shi Mu didn’t give any further advice as he heard Feng Li’s words. He then recalled something and asked.
"Bi Lige… " Feng Li raised his eyebrows. He clenched his teeth as spoke this name.
Shi Mu gazed at Feng Li. He then immediately withdrew his gaze.
It seemed that Feng Li had some link with the High Priest. His true origins were truly unusual and unpredictable.
Feng Li took a deep breath and spat out. He then slowly turned around; the expressions on his face had already become tranquil. He looked numb as if he was in deep thought. He said, "I didn’t know that Brother Shi had met the High Priest of the barbarian race. It seems that your trip to the barbarian wasteland was quite an experience."
"It’s nothing like that. I met the troop sent by the Union to hold peace-talks with the barbarian race by coincidence… as we were going towards the same place. So, we went together to the Holy Snow Palace of the barbarians," Shi Mu told Feng Li about the peace talks and his journey. But, he didn’t say anything about his experience in the Portal of the Brave Warriors. However, he told him about the lucky victory of the peaceful barbarians.
Feng Li remained silent for a while. He then laughed in a mischievous manner.
"I’ve already explained everything to you regarding this necklace. Everything I said was absolutely true. But, some things are secrets… and it’ll be inconvenient to disclose them for now. Please, forgive me for this." Feng Li cupped his hands in salutation towards Shi Mu. His face seemed blank.
"If that’s the case… then I wouldn’t ask much. But, this necklace has an exceptionally ruthless aura around it. You should be careful by all means after you wear it on your body," Shi Mu smiled and said.
Feng Li’s eyes flashed. He then cupped his hands in greeting towards Shi Mu once again. After that, he turned around, and walked over to a distant place with a very fast speed. His silhouette started to recede, and gradually turned into a black dot.
Shi Mu sighed as he looked at Feng Li’s departing figure. He then turned around, and took a glance at the ruins of the manor. He hesitated for a while, and then went inside the manor.
He appeared from inside the manor after a while. He then turned around, and jumped into his carriage. A few strange colors flashed in his eyes as he looked towards the building not far away from him.
He pulled the reins, and his carriage started to advance forward.
The sound of the wheels echoed as the carriage traveled towards a distant place. Then, two figures of slightly-built men appeared behind that building.
These two people were seventeen or eighteen years old. They neither seemed to be from the Golden Dragon Gang nor from the Wu family. It seemed that they were spies of some other powerful family. Their complexions were deathly pale, and their bodies were shivering in a continuous manner. There were traces of frightening colors across their faces.
One of them looked at the manor with fear as his nose smelt reeking blood. He felt a little nauseated, and vomited on the spot.
His companion was greatly shocked. He quickly held the other man. He then ran quickly towards the other side.
After half an hour… in the Liu Feng Martial Arts School…
Shi Mu was walking with Li Cang Hai while dressed in an embroidered robe.
Shi Mu had already found a guest house in the city. He had washed away the smell of reeking blood from his body, and had changed his clothes into new ones.
Shi Mu was looking extremely refreshed while dressed in traditional warrior garments with wide shoulders, rich body, thick eyebrows and big eyes. There was a handsome and bright aura on his resolute and lively face.
Li Cang Hai hadn’t changed too much in the last few years. He had merely caught a smear of hoar frost on his temple.
There was a strange redness across his face, and he looked quite emotional. He looked towards Shi Mu with deep and grateful eyes.
"Master Li, you don’t need refuse them. These are just a few Basic Strengthening Pills … that’s all. Your disciple can’t repay you the favor of teaching me back in those days," Shi Mu cupped his hands in greeting towards Li Cang Hai and said.
"These Gu Yuan pills are probably nothing to you… but they hold a great significance to me. I can make a progress with my cultivation for many years by relying on these pills you’ve given me," Li Cang Hai replied with a little excitement.
Shi Mu gave a faint smile. Then, both the men chatted for a while. After that, Shi Mu turned over, climbed on his carriage and bid goodbye to Li Cang Hai. He then left from the Liu Feng Martial Arts School.
"A long time has passed. They must’ve received accurate information by now," Shi Mu exposed a smile on his face as he muttered to himself.
He shook the reins at the same time, and the carriage sped towards another direction.
Inside a hall in the residence of the Jin Family…
All the Masters and members of the Jin family were assembled in the hall. The Masters of the Jin family stood on a side; they looked nervous. An old man wearing a magnificent golden robe sat on the main seat. He was a hale and hearty old man with white eyebrows.
This old man was the head of the Jin family. His cultivation had reached the consummate-level of the Hou Tian realm; he was the Elder of the Jin Family. He didn’t look old and clumsy even though he was ninety years old.
The old Elder of the Jin Family wrinkled his white eyebrows; his face revealed colors of anxiety. Suddenly, he stood-up, and started to pace back-and-forth in the hall with a restless and insomniac look on his face.
An extremely thin and short man stood in the center of the hall. It seemed that he had just reported something to the old Elder.
"Are you sure that… that man was Shi Mu?" the Elder stopped pacing, turned his head and looked towards the youth in golden clothes. He then asked in a deep voice.
"Yes… yes… I’m telling you Elder… this is absolutely true. His appearance has changed a little… but he was undoubtedly Shi Mu," the thin youth said hastily. His face was pale. A lingering fear flashed through his eyes as he said – "Shi Mu".
All the people present in the hall started to discuss among themselves in low voices as they heard these words.
"Where is this man now?" the Elder asked.
"He went in the direction of the Liu Feng Martial Arts School after he left from the Golden Dragon Gang’s manor," the thin youth replied.
The Elder raised the tip of his brow. His face exposed a puzzled expression.
"Shi Mu had practiced martial arts under Li Cang Hai in the Liu Feng Martial Arts School when he had come to the Feng City earlier," the Master of the Jin family stepped forward and explained.
"Assign a man to keep an eye on Shi Mu’s movements. If you find any sign that he’s coming towards the Jin family… then notify me immediately." The Elder hesitated for a while. He then commanded.
"Father, don’t worry. I’ve already sent men to the Liu Feng Martial Arts School. We’ve received a message from a messenger-pigeon that everyone is safe," the Master of the Jin family replied.
The Elder nodded as he heard this.
"Father, this child used to be daring in those days. He had even killed our Fifth Brother and Jin Tian. Now, he has dared to come back. We’ll now lay an inescapable trap… and capture him. Then, we’ll kill the enemy to revenge our Fifth Brother," a valiant-looking and shady-faced middle-aged man stood-up and said loudly.
This man was the Ninth Master in terms of seniority of the Jin Family’s generation. He was the closest relative of the Fifth Master of the Jin family. Moreover, he had been the most enthusiastic person to track down Shi Mu’s whereabouts in these past years.
"Old Ninth, Father is here. You don’t need to babble nonsense right now," the face of the Master of the Jin family became cold as he said in a stern voice.
The middle-aged man’s complexion sank. He didn’t dare to talk back. But, he still had an unconvinced expression on his face.