It was noon; the scorching sun was high up in the sky.
A desolate mountain-range was covered in silence. Several traces of streams and springs – that once flowed – could be seen everywhere on the mountain. It was hard to tell the reason, but they had dried-up. Moreover, the skeletons of a few animals could be seen around the dried-up water sources.
The most conspicuous sight was a remnant cave along the side of the road. It seemed from the traces on its surface that this cave had been artificially created by people a few years ago.
A tall silhouette was approaching towards the place from a distance. He was walking out slowly from the depths of the mountain-range.
That person was clad in black clothes. The color of his skin was bronze. His facial features were outlined distinctly. His eyes were sparkling brightly. He had a head-full of jet-black hair with a ponytail that seemed to have been tied-up in a casual manner. The end of his ponytail seemed as if a black current would fling and splash with his movements. He carried a black blade and a short stick on his back, and they were hung an intersecting position. In addition, a stone tied-up to an iron chain was wrapped around his waist. All these characteristics gave off an ambience of wild and unrestrained aura around that person.
This person was none other than Shi Mu.
He had once attempted to let the parrot find the traces of Jin Xiao Chai and others after he had gotten rid of Zha Gu. But, he hadn’t been able to find their trails or footprints. It seemed as if they had disappeared from the world.
Therefore, he had to continue his journey alone. Fortunately, he had gotten his hands on a detailed map after he had killed Zha Gu. Therefore, he hadn’t bumped into any exceptionally perilous situation during this month… except for a few ominous beasts.
He would continue on his journey during the daytime, and would summon Yan Luo on moonless nights. Yan Luo would accompany him in practicing and refining his Cultivation and martial arts. And, he had gradually gained expertise in all kinds of offensive skills as a result.
Suddenly, he stopped on a hilltop. The parrot Cai flew from his shoulder without even receiving his instructions. And, it flew straight into the sky.
According to the map, Shi Mu had already stepped out of the scope of barbarians Wasteland. He had entered into the territory of the central mainland a couple of days ago.
However, he had travelled here only to notice that the entire route was almost the same – a piece of barren and desolate land. This area wasn’t much different from the barbarians Wasteland.
He had expected that the central mainland would be blessed with abundant sources of spiritual aura. But, the present scenario seemed to be inexplicably different from what he had imagined. And, this had left him to believe that there was some problem with Zha Gu’s map.
Shi Mu re-adjusted his direction, and began to walk down the mountain.
Three days later…
Shi Mu appeared outside a small frontier town.
This small town was situated next to a mountain-range. It extended to a considerably wide area. It was labelled on the map as the ‘Overlooking the Mountain’ Town.
The rear part of the Overlooking the Mountain Town stood by the side of a tall and huge mountain-range that extended to a vast area. Therefore, this town had got its name due to its proximity to the mountains.
There were several artificially-dug water channels and drainages around the town. This made it evident that this place must’ve been a fertile land with plentiful sources of water. But now, these channels had dried-up. The traces of desertification had also begun to appear on the land. It now looked like a barren land.
"Shi Tou, we can finally have a feast to our heart’s content." Cai’s eyes sparkled as it gazed towards the town in the front. It then flapped its wings, and shouted in an excited manner.
Shi Mu didn’t say anything. He started to walk in the direction of the town.
He soon realized that most of the buildings constructed in this town were exceptionally magnificent and beautiful. However, the streets were sparsely populated, and gave the feeling of a desolate bleakness. There was no pedestrian on the streets and the restaurants alongside the street. They all were empty. They seemed to be narrating the story about the bleakness of this place.
Suddenly, a burst of weeping and wailing sounds were heard from the front.
Shi Mu’s mind moved into action, and he started to walk forward. He then turned around a corner, and saw the source of the sound.
There was a group of four people. They all were dressed in beastly-robes. They were shouting and yelling at people. They were using spears to thrash a dozen or more young and robust men. The hands of these young men had been tied-up. And, those beastly-robed men were pushing these young men to move forward.
The young men’s faces were smeared with a hint of resentment. But, none of them dared to speak anything. They merely continued to move forward.
Dozens of women, children, and elderly people could also be seen around these young men. They were kneeling on the ground, and were weeping as they asked for mercy.
The four beastly-robed men were Hou Tian warriors. Three of them were Hou Tian middle stage warriors, and the fourth one was at the advanced stage of the Hou Tian realm. He was a triangle-eyed middle-aged man, and seemed to be leading this small group.
Shi Mu could indistinctly draw the inference of the current situation from the wailing and pleading voices.
These warriors seemed to have barged into the town in order to capture a few people for mining.
"Emissary Xiang, please stay."
A grizzled-haired elderly man hurried past Shi Mu by taking the support of a petite man’s arm.
The complexion of the triangle-eyed man sank. He turned around, and looked at the grizzled-haired old man. Then, his face got smeared with impatience.
"Emissary Xiang, please be generous, and don’t punish them too severely. I request you to let them off the hook. This town doesn’t have many young men. I’m afraid that the people left behind will starve to death if these people were to leave the town as well," the grizzled-haired Town-Chief pleaded as he pointed his finger at the young men who had been tied-up.
"Old fool, we’ve already paid enough rewards for them. In fact, we’ve paid more than twice of what we used to. Even one-tenth of the total rewards would be considered enough for all of you. But, you’re still urging for more remuneration…? I have to take these people at all costs," the triangle-eyed man replied.
"I don’t want your money. I only want my husband back."
"Don’t take my son away."
The grizzled-haired Chief pleaded once again. The surrounding weak and elderly women continued to weep for mercy.
However, the triangle-eyed man remained unmoved. A few women were begging while holding his thighs. But, he shoved them away. He then urged the other people to be a bit faster, and make the young men walk.
"Elder Xiang, there’s someone blocking our way," one of the beastly-robed men said.
The triangle-eyed man was startled. He raised his head, and looked in that direction.
A tall and sturdy man appeared in his line of sight. He was clad in black clothes. A parrot sat on his shoulder. It couldn’t be said when he had walked past a few people, and had had stationed himself in front of them. He was staring at the triangle-eyed man with an expressionless face. It was none other than Shi Mu.
The grizzled-haired man gazed at Shi Mu in amazement. The weak and old people kneeling on the road looked startled. Even the captured young men – who were brimming with anger – felt surprised.
"Your Excellency’s face seems unfamiliar to me. Are you an outsider?" The triangle-eyed man sized up Shi Mu. He then asked.
"Set them free!" Shi Mu didn’t say anything. Instead, the parrot on his shoulder spoke-up.
"I would like to give a piece of advice to Your Excellency. Don’t try to stick your butt in the matters of our Bestial Mountain Sect. Be careful. Don’t invite unnecessary trouble." The triangle-eyed man was struck dumb for a moment. But then, the corners of his eyes twitched, and he spoke-up in a raised voice.
Shi Mu didn’t budge an inch. Instead, he said, "You’re asking for death."
The triangle-eyed man blazed with fury. He shook the spear in his hand, and a burst of green luminescence spurted out on its surface. Then, the tip of the spear trembled. ‘Chi! Chi!’ A shrill and ear-deafening sound rang out in the air. An intense gust of wind surged-up along with this.
The glaring green light on the tip of the spear started to spark in a range of three-feet. It soon took the shape of a huge green wolf-head. The triangle-eyed man then moved, and pounced forward. The wolf-head rushed towards Shi Mu at the same time.
The remaining three beastly-robed men also swooped towards Shi Mu. The long spears in their hands burst into a fit of trembles. Then, they took the form of three small wolf-heads, and rushed towards Shi Mu.
There was a very short distance between both the sides. Therefore, the four green wolf-heads arrived in front of Shi Mu in a split-second while carrying an intense cold wind along with them.
Shi Mu’s lips moved as the spearhead arrived close to him. Then, a streak of white light flew from his hand, and condensed into a shell-like light-blue shield in front of his body. After that, several white-colored magic characters began to circulate on the surface of the protective-shield.
‘Boom! Boom!’ Intermittent bursts of explosive sounds resounded.
The four wolf-heads got ruptured as soon as they collided with the pale-blue shield. Then, dozens of glaring light beams plummeted down on the protective-shield. This triggered intense air-waves which began to ripple in all directions.
However, the pale-blue protective-shield still remained placid.
Shi Mu’s mouth opened, and spouted a group of four white Qi clouds before those four warriors could act again. The clouds of white Qi flashed forward, and passed through the chests of all the four men.
This shot was the latest usage of the Qi Explosion Technique that Shi Mu had explored during this journey. Now, he could spout multiple attacks of white Qi at a stretch if a certain amount of magic power was accumulated inside his body.
Moreover, the might of his Qi Explosion Technique had grown bigger along with the enhancement of the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power. In fact, the might of this attack couldn’t be considered weaker than a Hou Tian consummate stage warrior’s attack if it was executed properly.
However, Shi Mu hadn’t poured his entire strength into this attack.
‘Ping! Ping! Ping!’ A series of muffled sounds echoed.
Three of the beastly-robed men were closer to Shi Mu. Therefore, they couldn’t escape the attack. And, they were struck in their chests by the white Qi. The white Qi bumped into their chests, and erupted into a mass of white Qi waves. The three men were struck to fly backwards as a result. The cloth around their chest area looked tattered and badly mutilated.
The complexions of the three men turned deathly pale. The Qi and blood within their bodies began to surge. They couldn’t even get-up for a while.
However, the triangle-eyed man had held the spear in front of his chest in a horizontal manner. Consequently, the white Qi had bumped against his spear, and had ruptured. But, an enormous force had welled-up on his spear. And, this had forced him to move three or four steps backwards. This dispelled the impact of the violent Qi waves.
"Spirit-grade Magician!" His complexion changed.
His voice had barely faded when a mass of white Qi darted from Shi Mu’s hands, and arrived in front of him in a flash.
The triangle-eyed man thought to use his spear to ward off the attack. But, the mass of white Qi flashed, and transformed into a ten-feet-long white Qi chain. Then, the chain bundled him firmly on the spot.
The might of the Qi Ring Pile was almost equivalent to the strength of a Xian Tian primary stage warrior. So, the man was tied-up in a matter of a few breaths. This technique was more than sufficient to deal with a Hou Tian warrior.
"Shi Tou, great work. Now, beat them to death," the parrot fluttered its wings, and shouted in applause.
Shi Mu didn’t even cast a glance at the four men after this attack. Instead, he turned around, and walked over to the old and feeble women. He then said, "Unshackle your family members. You can go home now."
The stunned young men and their family members burst into tears of joy as they heard this. Many dejected and resigned-to-fate people stepped forward at once. They then knelt down before Shi Mu, and pressed their foreheads to the ground.
Shi Mu felt helpless as he saw this.
Suddenly, the chain around the triangle-eyed man vanished. He then crawled-up to his feet.
The other three beastly-robed men also struggled to stand-up. Then, they moved closer to the triangle-eyed man.
The surrounding young men and women were alarmed as they saw the four men. They then drew backwards, and hid behind Shi Mu.
"Don’t dare to intervene in the matters of our Bestial Mountain Sect. Also, don’t dare to walk away from here if you’re courageous enough," the triangle-eyed man shot an intense look at Shi Mu as he said.
Shi Mu’s brows snapped into a frown. However, the parrot on his shoulder stuck out its chest, and spoke-up in an arrogant manner before Shi Mu could say anything.
The triangle-eyed man noticed Shi Mu’s gaze sweeping over him in a fierce manner. He then turned around, and fled away. The other three men also followed after him.
The young men and their family members expressed their gratitude to Shi Mu as they saw that the four men had ran away. Then, they gradually dispersed.
"This old man is the Chief of this Mountain Town. My name is Liu Dou. May I venture to ask the righteous man’s honorable last name? We’re truly fortunate that we received this help from you today," the grizzled-haired Chief stepped forward, cupped his hands and said with deep veneration.
He seemed to be anxious even though his words were giving-off the feeling of happiness.
"I’m Shi Mu. I was just passing through your noble town." Shi Mu extended his hand, and stopped the old Chief from saluting him.
"Righteous man Shi, I can see that you’re tired and covered in dust. It seems that you haven’t even eaten a proper meal. This old man’s family happens to have opened a restaurant. Shall we go there if you don’t mind?" the old Chief invited him.
"Well, that’s great! Shi Tou and Cai are almost starving to death," the parrot flapped its wings, and shouted energetically.
Shi Mu hit the parrot’s head with his finger, and nodded to the elderly Chief in agreement.
The Chief turned around by taking the support of the petite man by his side. Then, he slowly started to walk in a certain direction. Shi Mu also started to walk alongside him at a moderate pace.