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 Chapter 142 - Ruins

Sand Girl and the others still did not abandon hope, and they desperately fumbled through the bodies, their faces covered with extreme agony.

The adverse circumstances in the wasteland had raised in her a toughness that deemed tears as a disgrace. But at this moment, every one of them were crying soundlessly, and their faces were already streaked with tears. This was too much for them, and thus their hearts cried out relentlessly.

Shi Mu walked up to Sand Girl in a feeble attempt to offer his condolences. But he opened his mouth, only to find no appropriate words coming out. At this very moment, words were only a jumble of meaningless syllables.

"Father...Father...!" A quivering, crying voice called out, tinged with the joy of surprise.

Shi Mu's eyes glittered excitedly, and his body had already shot up in the direction of the voice. It was at the center of the square, where the altar for the Raven God was set up. The remnants of last night's embers were still lying scattered on the land. But the altar was hardly able to be recognized now that it had been smashed to pieces along with the statue of the Raven God. In front of the shattered altar a cross was erected. This cross was taller than an average barbarian's height, and on the cross was nailed a burly man, whose body was terribly slashed.

This was Shaman Sand Sun.

Sand Girl was holding her father's legs and crying for help, and, despite his serious injuries, there was still some color left on his cheeks. He was still alive.

Sand Star rushed to the cross upon hearing his sister's voice, tears streaming down his face. He had got a half-broken hacking knife from nowhere, ready to unfasten his father from the wooden cross. But Sand Sun's hands and feet had been nailed fast into the wood, his bones pierced. The flesh near the wounds had been exposed, and blood had congealed there.

Sand Star was struck dumbfounded, for, at this time, he did not know how to unfasten his father without hurting him even more. He paced the ground near his father anxiously. Just then, Shi Mu had flashed to his side. Jumping up to the cross, he took hold of Sand Girl's hand forcibly.

"Your father is seriously injured. Don't sway his body," Shi Mu commanded, with a stern face.

Sand Girl was jolted out of her grieved state, her eyes drooping, yet quickly staring into Shi Mu's eyes with a pleading look.

Shi Mu quickly drew Sand Girl aside, and, at the same time, bid Sand Star to remain still. He then drew his black blade, examined Sand Sun's wounds, and circled around the cross. Then he screwed up his eyes, and with full concentration, slashed the black blade around the cross. The metal glinted and glittered, then, with a few cracks, Sand Sun's body fell straight down from the cross, and the steel nails that had penetrated his hands and feet were cut cleanly against his skin.

[ED: in case anyone is wondering, this is an 'x' shaped cross, not a 't' shaped one.]

Shi Mu withdrew the black blade with a flip of his wrists, then held Sand Sun's body gently with both arms, placing him face-up on the ground with the utmost care.

"Father!" Sand Girl immediately threw herself on Sand Sun's body, and Sand Star tossed the broken knife aside, kneeling heavily on the ground.

With a gloomy face, Shi Mu put one finger softly on Sand Sun's neck. Immediately, a wisp of Shi Mu's real qi entered the latter's veins, checking out his internal conditions.

The brother and the sister held their breaths at their side, not daring to make a sound, though their hearts were being torn apart with anxiety.

After a few breaths, Shi Mu's face fell, and his eyes dimmed. He took his finger back, distressed.

"Brother Mu, how is my father?" Sand Girl trembled.

"His organs have been shattered, and his injuries are beyond repair. It's a miracle that he has stayed alive this long. I'm terribly sorry, but I cannot save him." Shi Mu answered, with a dismal face.

Sand Girl felt limp and weak for a moment, almost passing out.

"Sister!" Sand Sun strode up and supported her.

"Shaman Sand's mind is still together, and I can try to stimulate that. But, once awakened, his injuries - inside and outside - will break out... and he won't have long to live..." Shi Mu looked at the hapless sister and the brother, saying so after a few painful moments. He sighed bitterly, then went on to say, "But even if we let shaman Sand sleep like this, he probably won't make it longer than a quarter of an hour...So...you'll have to make a choice."

Sand Girl's slim body wavered, and the brother and the sister exchanged a deep look. They held their father's hands for a moment, with bent heads. Then, with determined eyes, they looked up at almost the same time. Shi Mu was, momentarily, taken by surprise, for he saw the tearful eyes of Sand Girl's glinting with hatred.

"Brother Mu, please awaken our father, and I shall ask who on earth has destroyed our tribe and slaughtered our kinsmen!" Sand Girl uttered every single word strenuously. Sand Star also cast Shi Mu beseeching looks, his face still bathed in tears, but his eyes had gained a firm light, akin to his sister's.

Shi Mu looked at them for a moment, then nodded his head and took out a white bottle from his shirt, from which he poured out a small white pill. Then he flicked his hand, producing a green charm, which was none other than the Rejuvenation Charm.

Shi Mu chanted the spell, and waved his hand, sticking the charm to Sand Sun's forehead. The charm instantaneously shone with green light, quickly wrapping around Sand Sun's body. The wounds on his skin began to heal miraculously, and color quickly returned to his face. Sand Girl and Sand Star marveled with tears.

Next, Shi Mu's eyes glittered gold, and his fingers moved deftly on Sand Sun's chest and lower abdomen, where he quickly pressed certain acupuncture points. The overpowering real qi of heavenly elephant was divided into several streams under Shi Mu's spiritual control, flowing slowly into Sand Sun's body and stimulating his blood by force.

After some time, Sand Sun's body jerked without warning, and his breaths became more quick and vigorous. He coughed, and spat out some blood. Eventually, he opened his eyes.

An unnatural ruddiness appeared on his cheeks, like the glow of the sun as it sets. They were all aware that this should be Sand Sun's last few moments of life.

"Father!" Sand Girl and Sand Star threw themselves on their father.

Finishing his task, Shi Mu stood up silently and walked to the side.

"My girl, my star...So you are both safe...that's...too...good..." Sand Sun turned to look at his children with much effort, and struggled to find his voice. Though extremely weak, his eyes spoke of comfort.

The ten-odd tribesmen also rushed over to their shaman's side after hearing his feeble voice. They had been searching for other survivers, but their hands were empty, save for the blood and mud on them.

"Father, who has destroyed our tribe? Tell me!" Sand Girl was suddenly reminded of Shi Mu's words, so she snatched her father's hand and asked, grinding her teeth with hatred.

Sand Sun's eyes flickered, then grew dim. He managed to open his mouth again, "the enemy is too strong...not for you to deal with...forget about revenge..."

"We are not afraid! Shaman, there are no cowards in our Heavenly Raven Tribe! Only gallant warriors!" A young man at his side yelled angrily.

"We want revenge! Blood for blood!" Others also echoed in a fury.

Looking at his kinsmen exclaiming with indignation, Sand Sun's face creased into a bitter smile. Did they think he didn't desire revenge? It was only that the Heavenly Wolf Tribe was so horribly strong. Their strength far surpassing that of the Raven Tribe. He would rather die with regret than have his tribesmen courting death.

"Father, it's the Heavenly Wolf Tribe, isn't it?" Sand Star asked.

Sand Sun was startled hearing his intelligent son's accurate guess. The others were also struck dumb, though not for the same reason.

"So I'm right." Sand Star slowly stretched out his fingers that had been clenching fast. In his palm was held some crude, grey wolf hair.

Shi Mu's face puckered. Though he had not been long in this region, through the conversations he had with the tribesmen these past two days, he had gathered some inklings of the surrounding tribes conditions. The Heavenly Wolf Tribe, being the biggest Belligerent tribe in the neighborhood, was notorious for its overriding power and sanguinary nature.

Sand Girl and her kinsmen, on hearing the tribe's name, gritted their teeth, seething with hatred. Especially Sand Girl, who could not help but tremble in rage. After a moment she raised her liquid eyes, which were so fierce, one would think they could burn holes in metal.

"My girl, I, under the name of the shaman of our tribe, now hand over my position to you. From now on, you should protect our tribesmen and do your duty... Also, keep your brother safe...I, swear to the Raven God, if ever you intend to seek revenge from the Heavenly Wolf Tribe, my spirit will never be free from pain and sufferings!" Sand Sun took a deep breath and suddenly gave a rigorous warning.

Sand Girl blanched, and her body slumped onto the ground, her lips quivering helplessly.

"No...Father...You can't do this...You can't do this to me..." She murmured, as if struck delirious.

"My girl, this is my last request, as our tribe's leader, shaman, and your father. Would you disobey me?" Sand Sun was stirred, his chest heaving violently as he almost pleaded with gasps.

Sand Girl remained silent, biting her lower lip until it bled. The blood dropped onto the land, dying the dust red.

"Yes, father. I promise you." She lowered her head, answering slowly.

Sand Sun finally relieved, leaning in Sand Star's arms. Strenuously he stretched out his hand, stroking her beloved girl's cheeks. A smile of content crept upon his face.

"Kinsmen, this order is made to you, too. Our barbarian wasteland has witnessed the births and deaths of millions of small tribes like ours in the past thousand years. It has always been rule for the strong to survive. It's no big deal that our Flying Raven Tribe got exterminated. You only need to lead on with your peaceful lives, and only then shall I rest in peace in the other world." Sand Sun's eyes slowly swept over these young barbarians' faces.

All this talking had poised a strain on him, and gis ruddy face gradually crystallized, almost turning transparent. The tribesmen, watching their respected shaman dying bit by bit, felt a stab at their hearts. Though this was an order most against their wills, they still promised, choking with sobs.

Sand Sun relaxed much upon hearing their promises. He then tilted his head with difficulty, and said, "Brave warrior Mu."

"Shaman Sand." Shi Mu stepped forward and stooped by the dying leader. In great sorrow Shi Mu moved his head nearer to him. Sand Sun managed a smile, then suddenly took a deep breath before he opened his mouth to spit out a black bone piece the size of half a fist. With trembling hands, Sand Sun passed the bone piece to Shi Mu. The latter was shocked, but still took it, out of respect.

"Brave warrior Mu, this bone piece holds some black magic and Totem arts of our tribe, handed down from ancient times. Neither of my children has the gift for black magic, so now I want you to have it. Though it's not much to brag about...it's still the most precious thing our Flying Raven Tribe has..." By his last words, Sand Sun had already began gasping, his face deathly pale.

Shi Mu clutched the bone piece as asked, but a trace of doubt crossed his face.

"Shaman, by giving me this, do you want me to do something for you?" Shi Mu asked slowly, filled with sadness.

"Yes. This area is no longer safe, so I'd like to have you escort my children and the rest of my tribesmen to the Southwestern Wasteland. Their uncle is the leader of Tu Huo Tribe there. That's a peaceful tribe, too." Sand Sun looked at Shi Mu expectantly and said.

Shi Mu stood up slowly, clutching the bone piece in his palm. His eyes scanned his surroundings mournfully. The ruins, the incomplete cold bodies. All of it plunged into his heart like a sharp dagger. For a moment he was overcome with sorrow. At last he moved his eyes, resting them on the great shaman, and promised solemnly, "Of course, shaman, rest assured. I swear to take them there, safe and sound."

Sand Sun's eyes regained some luster as he heard so, but the glow soon faded. Time was ticking down for this once strong man.

"Brothers, I need to talk to Shaman Sand, alone. Could you please give us a moment?" Shi Mu's soulful eyes suddenly smoldered with hate, and he turned to ask the Sand Girl and her tribesmen for a most odd request.

chapter from: http://www.xianxiaworld.net/The-Portal-of-Wonderland/

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