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Chapter 148 - A Misunderstanding

At this critical juncture, an ear-splitting sound rang out.

A black shadow darted out of a nearby shrub, flitting through the air like a crash of thunder in the night. In a blink of an eye, the shadow vanished into one of the barbarians' chest.

The hefty barbarian was knocked backwards against the bough of a huge tree, bringing a blast that blew the leaves off their branches. The tree shook violently in the wind.

The barbarian's body hung in mid air, penetrated by a black arrow that sank deep into the bough. The feathers at the arrow's end were still quivering. The barbarian's face twisted in terror as his mouth dropped. However, this arrow had taken his life before he could let out a sad cry. His eyes soon became unfocused, and his feet, after some futile twitches, finally stopped moving.

This caused the other barbarians and the girl in the jacket to start panicking. Before they could to look back, another two black shadows whistled through the air with the same incredible speed.

"Ahhhhhhhh!" Two shrieks echoed almost simultaneously and another two barbarians were thrown backward by the momentum of the arrows. Similarly, they were nailed into the trees and died a quick death.

Another black shadow flashed when the fourth arrow shot up. One barbarian twisted his body to duck the arrow; his eyes as fierce as a snake. He brandished his long knife in mid air to stop the arrow, but the impact set him stepping back with a jolt. There was terror in his bestial eyes. He had not expected so much force from the arrow.

"What are you guys waiting for? Perform the Knife-Binding Formula! We have to stop this!" The red-eyed barbarian shouted desperately for help to his companions, who finally came to themselves and temporarily left the girl in the jacket to perform the knife formula. Instantly, they stood in a circle with backs against each other, cooperating with superb partnership and dexterity. Each one of the four guarded a direction, swaying the steel knife in their hands. The blue screen of knife shadows constituted a perfect fortress.

Swish! Another black arrow penetrated the dense air like electricity with unstoppable speed. However this time, as soon as the arrow came near the whirling knives, it lost its supercilious air. In the next moment, it fell crestfallen in four pieces. This caused delight in the red-eyed barbarian. Encouraged, he sneered in the dark as his eyes glimmered like an insidious insect that was ready to pounce on a prey. Then, by an almost imperceptible movement of his right hand, a scorpion as big as a fist slipped out of a small purse at his waist and sprang out in the direction where Shi Mu was hiding. It moved so quickly that its body left a black line of afterimages behind.

On the other side, this hidden archer, whatever his intention might be, gave the girl a respite to rest a bit. She staggered back several steps, heaving for breath. Meanwhile, she caught a faint glimpse of the scorpion that flew out of the barbarian's hand and was quite alarmed. Just as she was to warn the archer, a shout low and deep reverberated in the woods as a red light flashed for a second. Immediately the black scorpion flew back, fell under its owner's feet in halves, and stopped moving after a struggle.

The red-eyed barbarian was enraged and his eyes were filled with anger and fear. The same expression came to the girl's face. Before their shock subsided, the next arrow had shot up, aimed at none other than the red-eyed barbarian. He immediately sensed something different; the arrow was blue instead of black. However, his self-confidence in the knife formula reassured him, and with one hand fumbling in the waist purse, he seemed to be up to something.

It did not take the blue arrow more than a few seconds to reach its target. With some rustling sounds, the knife screen was vanquished like paper scraps that got lost in the wind. The four strongly-built barbarians were shaken by the force of the arrow, limping back involuntarily and unable to even hold onto their knives.

The red-eyed barbarian was taken unguarded and his knife almost slipped off his hand. In a moment of desperation, he propped the knife in front of his chest while swiveling it wildly. Unfortunately, the arrow perforated his shelter of knife shadows like a breeze, and then pierced into his chest while his eyes were still widely opened due to the great shock.

"Wind Chasing...Ch..." Before his lips could mumble some ambiguous syllables, the red-eyed barbarian was thrown backward for about thirty meters until he fell dead on the ground. Now, did the other barbarians learned their lesson; with ghastly pale faces, they turned back and ran away with tacit understanding. However, even the fastest of them could only made about sixty meters before he was nailed into the ground by a blue arrow. In a minute, the woods regained its dead silence.

"Magical arrows?" The girl in the jacket stared hard at the patterns drawn on the arrows, murmuring to herself.

After a brief moment, Shi Mu emerged out of the woods. His shirt was torn with a long slit, obviously slashed by the black scorpion. He stroked his chest with a lingering fear. The vicious little thing was probably at the primary level of Houtian stage, but its speed was incredible. It was all thanks to his superhuman eyesight that he was still breathing. A quick glance would tell that the shiny pitch-black stinger at the end of its tail, contained a venom that would kill through the smallest scratch on the skin.

"You are...one of us?" The girl in the jacket looked Shi Mu up and down, asking tentatively.

"That's correct. I am Shi Mu of the Black Demon Sect. And what about you?" Shi Mu asked, looking straight into the girl's eyes.

"Do you have something that can prove your identity?" The girl did not answer the question but asked in response, still having some doubt in this stranger.

Shi Mu was mute for a moment, knitting his eyebrows. Then he fished out a black token from his sleeve and swept it before the girl's eyes. It was the token of the Black Demons. This assured the girl, causing her face to relax.

"Nice to meet you, brother Shi. I am Tian Huowu[1], thanks for your help just now. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you..." The girl cupped her hands to thank Shi Mu.

"It's ok. I didn't expect to meet disciples of the union other than me in this wasteland. Nice to meet you." Shi Mu answered.

Tian Huowu smiled cheerfully, but her face suddenly went pale and she spat blood. Her body shook weakly, about to fall on her back. Shi Mu hurried to support her by the shoulder, and then helped her sit down against a tree.

"Thank you again." Tian Huowu managed a smile, took out a delicate jade bottle from her sleeve, and then out poured a pill. But without warning her face clouded as her body stiffened instantly.

"Sister Tian, what's up?" Shi Mu was still in the dark.

But just as his voice fell, Tian Huowu flipped her wrist and the white sword in her hand struck at Shi Mu's chest at lightning speed. This shocked him greatly as he swiftly shot himself backwards to dodge the attack.

Pu! No matter how quickly Shi Mu reacted, the short distance between them made him unable to duck unscathed. His shirt got terribly slashed, exposing his chest, and he was a centimeter away from being eviscerated. Shi Mu changed his expression as anger overtook him. He was about to shout out in anger until Tian Huowu interrupted him, jumping to her feet, "You shameless barbarian impostor, how dare you pretend to be one of us! Courting death!"

The sword in her hand glinted cold and hard, like a white lightening, striking at every vital part on Shi Mu's body mercilessly. Shi Mu twisted his body and ducked several strikes, his eyes turning golden. He thrust his one arm speedily into the sword shadows, cutting directly at the sword in Tian Huowu's hand. The girl let out a dull groan, dropping her weapon onto the ground. Shi Mu kicked up the sword with his foot, gripped it in his hand, and then jumped backwards until he was several meters away.

Tian Huowu's face paled as she spat blood again, staggering a step back to prop herself against the tree. Color had drained from her beautiful face, and her delicate body could not help but start shivering. Finally she knelt down on the ground while leaning against the trunk.

Although she had escaped the pursuit of the Earth Grade barbarians by a narrow margin, her body had not survived uninjured. The wounds and internal injuries had been serious, caused by the fierce battle with the many pursuers. Although she had by force suppressed them a bit with her secret arts, the fight with Shi Mu had made them finally act up.

Tian Huowu turned back to look for the white pill she had dropped. She would have taken it if it weren't for the unexpected fight. She now reached out her hand to pick it up. However, the hand would not comply, trembling like an old man, causing the pill to slip through her fingers constantly.

Just then, two gentle fingers picked the pill up and brought it to her lips. The girl raised her head to find that the imposter had moved beside her with the pill in his hand, his eyes peaceful and calm. She deeply looked into that pair of eyes, hesitated, and opened her mouth to receive the pill.

After giving her the pill, Shi Mu stood up and stepped back again to wait for the girl to relax. Tian Huowu wore a puzzled face that spoke a mixture of doubt and gratitude, but after some minutes she seemed to have made up her mind, seating herself once again against the tree, and adopted a more snug posture with her legs crossed.

Later on her, body began to glow faintly white, and a light circled around her slowly with cold air. As time went by, the ground near her became covered with frost. Shi Mu fixed his eyes on her, full of surprise. Judging by her real qi, she was probably at the later stage of Houtian Level. Therefore, by no means could she have achieved this without the pill.

After a long while, she reopened her eyes as her complexion had returned to normal. Slowly, she stood up while looking at Shi Mu in a inquisitive manner.

"Sister Tian, I guess you must have been mistaken. Is it because of this tattoo?" Shi Mu smiled wryly. Saying this, he tore open his shirt, exposing the tattoo of the appalling red python on his well-muscled chest. The tattoo had now taken on an even brighter touch, which rendered it more life-like.

"Humph! That tattoo proves you to be a barbarian. What's your purpose in disguising as a Black Demon's disciple?" Tian Huowu threw out her doubt with a clear, harsh voice after having a quick glance at the python with slightly blushing cheeks. As if trying to dissemble her shyness, she added grimly, "Or, are you presuming that I am credulous of your feigned goodness in rescuing me?"

"Hehe, of course not. This tattoo is not the barbarian totem. On the contrary, it's a curse..." Shi Mu sighed softly, not triggered by the girl's verbal attack this time. Before Huowu could say anything else, he poured out the whole story of how he got the curse - that the Rat Nest stronghold was raided by barbarians, and how he was attacked by a green-skinned barbarian who put the curse of Eternal Doom on him.

"...After the accident, I asked around and finally got the information needed. To lift the curse, I have to either ask help from an Earth Grade saint, or learn this secret totem art of the Firing Snake Tribe. You know, I am an ordinary disciple... so which Earth Grade saint would help me? That's why I'm here now in this barbarian wasteland: to try my luck," Shi Mu explained in a composed voice.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Note:

[1] Tian Huowu: As we have known, this girl is the princess of Qi court. Her title is the Fire-Dancing Princess, and her name, "Huo Wu" just means the dancing fire. Tian is a random Chinese family name.

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