Chapter 153 - The Great Shaman
The pale spirit fires wavered in Silk's eyes. Once again, it ducked the white spear at an even higher speed. Such a scene repeated several times; each time, Silk was able to raise its speed to a higher level even though there was always a short duration between each attack. Finally, the giant skeleton lost its patience, and then switched its weapon from the spear to a whip which appeared to be some animal's tail. With a crack of the whip, several white shadows rolled howling to Silk.
Silk adopted the same technique to dodge the incoming whip, leaving many afterimages in its flash movement. However, this time the bone whip turned around halfway abruptly, chasing after Silk's afterimages like a dragon stalking its prey.
Silk had just steadied itself and was hardly able to make the next move when the whip, in its hot pursuit, had approached. Like a flower flashing into blossom, the whip snapped. In a second, it had entwined itself around Silk's limbs, tieing it up solidly on the spot.
Silk struggle desperately, but only in vain. Its spirit flames flickered nervously in panic. The giant skeleton opened its big mouth, though with no sound; it seemed to be laughing triumphantly. Then with a stretch of its right hand, the giant skeleton snatched Silk up and simultaneously flung its spear towards Silk's head.
Right at this moment, Silk stop struggling, and then made an appalling action! Swiftly, its head tilted to the side, and then voluntarily poked out to meet the spear!
Peng! With a loud crack the bone spear broke into pieces, whereas Silk's head remained intact! The giant skeleton halted in surprise, giving Silk a chance to retaliate. Pulling hard on the whip, Silk thrusted towards the giant skeleton, knocking its head against its opponent's with a burst of speed.
Crack! The giant skeleton's skull was instantly crushed; the crumbs drifting profusely and disorderly into the air. Amid the dust and smoke, a ball of green light flew out. Silk leaped up and breathed the light in. Immediately the pale green light of its eyes grew vaguely stronger.
Silk made a tumble in the air and landed on the ground dexterously. Its mouth opened and closed several times, then with an exertion it shook off the bone whip without much difficulty. In the howling wind, Silk turned back to the basin where the confused fighting was still going on.
In the stone flat near the Palace of Blue Teeth.
Shi Mu was sitting cross-legged on the bed, his eyes somewhat drooping. After a long time, a light returned to his eyes as he recovered from the moody trance, sighing.
It had never occurred to him that it was this difficult to lift the curse. So it turned out that he had always downplayed the curse, which now appeared almost impossible to conquer. Then why did he come all the way here, to the sacred mountain, through all kinds of hardships! What for, if all the endeavors came to nothing!
However, he was not good at admitting defeat; he must see it through to the end.
Shi Mu shook his head in an attempt to shake off all the anxieties that had been gnawing at him. He took a moment to regain his peace of mind, then swallowed a Bone-Breaking Pill to work the Art of Heavenly Elephant. Eyes closed, he forgot himself in self-discipline.
After a long time, Shi Mu collapsed with a bitter cry. From the innermost of his spirit came fits of sharp pains that almost ripped his heart open. He sank into convulsions, and his face went deathly pale.
Gradually, he suppressed the pain, and then struggled to his feet with gritted teeth. Right now, he had been drenched in icy perspiration. He tore his clothes open, took them off, and then quickly reached for the blue jade calabash at his bed from which he poured some of the blue liquid into his hand and then applied it to his skin. Immediately, a coolness spread all over his body, comforting his bones.
After about fifteen minutes, the red light around his chest died away eventually, leaving a vague ring hovering above the tattoo of the viper. The beast seemed to have come back to life, wriggling slowly.
Shi Mu's face was pallid and grave. Up till now, the power of the unicorn viper's blood had been dwindling, and at this moment, was almost used up. Every few days the curse would break out, and dreadfully, also with increasingly smaller intervals.
However, the key issue at the moment was that the unicorn viper's blood was running out. At the thought, Shi Mu's brow clouded with worry.
At the same time, in the Sacred Snow Palace.
The conference hall made entirely of white rocks was extremely spacious and the walls had all kinds of animal's skulls hanging on them, adding a crudeness to the atmosphere inside.
In the depth of the hall, a black stone desk of extraordinary length stood exceedingly eye-catching. Behind the long desk, a barbarian saint was sitting cross-legged.
In every way he looked rather in his dotage. The old man's shriveled skin was criss-crossed with deep wrinkles, looking like a landscape filled with ravines and gullies. The pair of eyes were turbid and lifeless, as if he was lost in an eternal slumber. His right hand was holding a crutch that looked almost his age, like a wizened branch.
Before the black desk, eight barbarians in various styles of clothes were standing in two groups, engaged in a heated argument that might escalate into war at any time.
On the left side, a middle-aged barbarian with eyes shining like bells stepped forward, bent his head to the old man behind the desk, and then burst out shouting with foam at the mouth, "This is a heaven-sent opportunity not occurred in a hundred years! What are you guys waiting for! Now the heaven is on our side! Once we join forces with the sea guys, those human pigs can no longer stop our Holy War! By then, we will ride on the fecund lands we have always been dreaming of! Great Shaman, please warrant this alliance!"
"Humph! You Brutal Bulls are born merciless killers! Near sighted animals! Who do you think the sea-dwellers are? They are much stronger than us and the humans! If we make an alliance with the sea-dwellers, once they beat the humans, we will be their next target! We Golden Feathers strongly oppose to this mad proposal!" Before the great shaman behind the desk could speak, a barbarian elder on the right side immediately protested. The three golden feathers on his hair vibrated excitedly.
"Hehe, stop barking at the moon, shaman Jin. Where do we live? The great wasteland! I don't think the sea guys would like such a place." Just as the gold-feathered elder's voice fell, another old barbarian at his opposite retorted. His eyes narrowed like a fine snake, and in his hand was a magical crutch made of red bones.
"How do you Fiery Snakes know the sea-dwellers' intention?" Shaman Jin threw the old man a hard stare.
"Well, anyway, our tribe helped get the three fortress provinces of Qi in this holy war! And the most barren provinces, by losing hundreds of our brave warriors! What do you say to that? Now we are presented the best opportunity to get countless fecund lands, and what do you guys say to that? If we let go of this chance, what do you say to the brave souls who have sacrificed their lives for us!" A middle-aged barbarian scolded Shaman Jin furiously.
On the opposite side, an old shaman in a green frock was ignited by this refutation, but before he opened his mouth, the old barbarian of the Fiery Snake tribe spoke up, "Everyone, please hear my advice. Let's ally ourselves with the sea guys, and - quiet - when we set up treaty of alliance, we can add an appendix that each party takes its own occupied areas. This stipulated, the sea guys will definitely mount a large-scale offensive against humans. By then we can mass troops along the frontline, but not get a move on. Because we shall send messengers to talk with the humans. We offer truce, and they must submit large amounts of provisions. If the humans can see reason, we shall halt the troops and bide our time."
This said, the narrow-eyed old man gave a purposeful pause before he went on with a sneer, "Then, when the stupid humans shift their main force to concentrate on the battle with sea guys, we shall avail ourselves of this opportunity to get in, taking lots of lands as our own. By that time, with the appendix, the sea guys can only keep their grievances to themselves."
Such an intelligent idea won unceasing applause from the other three shamans from the aggressive tribes, their faces glowing with the vision of their incoming triumph. Amid the ear-deafening clap, the dim-sighted great shaman narrowed his eyes lethargically and yawned with a face not interested at all.
"Want to play fire, huh? You brainless war nuts! Why do you think the seven sects of the humans can survive hundreds of years? They have their solid foundation! Even if the humans are to lose lots of lands, the seven sects will still have their place! However, if we not only offend the sea-dwellers some day, but also have the humans as our sworn enemy, what should we do then? Sandwiched between two races that hate us to the core! Do you have the confidence to extract ourselves from the pincer attack?" Shaman Yanya snorted contemptuously.
Then beside shaman Yanya, another shaman in a green frock spoke unhurriedly, "You aggressive tribes are far from the sea, so you've never tasted the power of the sea-dwellers. We peaceful tribes have lived by the sea for generations, and thus know their strength. They vex us deeply! At any rate, we Naro tribe will never join the alliance with sea-dwellers."
"That's right! Years ago, the sea dwellers declared truce with humans, but what happened then? They ignored the agreement, and launched war arbitrarily. Such a race should never be trusted!" A black-frocked shaman at the farthest of the right side echoed. Around his neck was a necklace of skulls.
"The sea guys are not to blame! It's humans that played the dirty trick! They went fishing on the sea!" The shaman of the Brutal Bull tribe made a confutation immediately, glaring angrily. This set the simmering anger of both parties eventually exploding; at the time shamans of the eight tribes became entangled in endless quarrels.
After some time, shaman Yanya frowned disapprovingly, waved gently to his three companions. Soon shamans of the peaceful side stopped arguing.
Shaman Yanya stepped forward, saluted the great shaman behind the desk and said solemnly, "Please give us the final ruling, Great Shaman, that should we have a peace talk with humans!"
"Please give us the final ruling, Great Shaman, that should we make alliance with sea-dwellers!" The bell-eyed shaman of Brutal Bull tribe followed the fashion immediately.
All the others also sank into a tacit silence, all turning their expectant eyes to the great shaman. However, to their surprise, the great shaman closed his eyes like a bothered father averting the childish look of his son who nagged him for a toy gun.
The shamans looked at each other in astonishment, but remained patiently silent in tacit agreement. Shaman Yanya and his competitor also kept their bowing posture, their faces free of any sign of impatience.
Then after a full fifteen minutes, the great man's shrivelled hand moved, almost imperceptibly. The old, glazed eyes opened a slit after some struggle. Seeing this, shaman Yanya and shaman Mo vied to plead again.
"All right, do not argue, all of you. Now I have made the decision. Both sides are to each select fifty totem warriors below Xiantian level to enter the Portal of Brave Warriors to hunt for beasts. Then, based upon the level and number of beasts hunted, I shall decide the winner. The time limit is ten days." At length, the great shaman Billigerd announced his resolve fairly slowly.
This sent the eight shamans into a heated discussion which centered around the doubt why the great shaman wanted to open the portal ahead of the conventional time.
The Portal of Brave Warriors leads to a vast sealed space: a reserve for the ancient life. Therefore, it overflows with heavenly energy and being abundant in numerous fierce beasts that have already been extinct in the outside world. For barbarians living in the barren wasteland, this space is virtually a gigantic storehouse of myriad treasures. Notwithstanding, opening the gate ahead of appointed time will be detrimental to every tribe's interest - no wonder all the shamans despite their side feels uncomfortable towards this ruling.
But the expressionless face of the great shaman spoke for the ultimate situation. Therefore, they spoke no more, but instead, began calculating the odds of their success.
Soon, shamans of the aggressive side glowed with pride, while the peaceful ones looked rather frustrated.
Naturally, the peaceful tribes inherited less blood from the ancient giant barbarians, so they fall behind their aggressive kinsmen in their fighting strength. It appears obviously that odds are against them.
"Sea-dwellers and humans can each send two warriors into the gate to assist their respective side." Seeing that the crowd had calmed down, the great shaman added slowly.