Chapter 156 - The Broken Statue
The grassland smelt fresh and sweet after rain, washed even greener. The girl in the blue dress was standing solitary on a boulder, her dress drifting in the wind. She looked exactly like an otherworldly nymph in the picture, carrying the scent of an orchid in a remote vale.
The girl wore a rather puzzled expression as she stared vacantly into the distance.
"Could it be him...?" After a long while, the girl's lips trembled with discernible excitement.
Just then, a black dot emerged from far away as it darted in her direction at lightning speed. The girl shook her head and tensed up while turning towards the black shadow that was growing larger every second until a full view of the comer was possible. This was the sea guy who had a fishtail. However, he was now wearing a black armor. His tail was wagging rapidly behind him like a swimming snake, and in a blink of an eye he had come to the girl.
"Holy Girl!" The fishtail guy saluted her in a hoarse voice that sounded like two wood bricks rubbing against each other.
"Let's go." The girl in blue dress said flatly after which she sprang up and swiftly landed on the ground next to the sea guy. Without another word, she turned toward the north and marched forward. The fishtail guy followed along without a word of protest.
It was an area of undulating hills. Somewhere between two hills lay a marsh land that smelled obnoxiously of blood. Down in the marsh land, over ten dead bodies of a kind of yellow lizards were thrown chaotically on the ground, most of them were cut into halves and bleeding profusely until a small river had formed in the marsh land.
A girl in a yellow cloak was standing beside the dead bodies. She was exactly the Fire-Dancing Princess. In her hand was a water canteen that she was using to wash the blood off her silver sword. However tinted the weapon had been, her clothes were not smudged by blood in the slightest.
After washing down the sword, she pointed on the ground and like a yellow cloud, drifted up to the top of a hill. After a careful observation of the terrain, she nodded and drifted on to the next chosen location.
ED: Like flying nimbus xD
In a grisly gorge, five barbarians were fighting fiercely with hundreds of blood-red bats. The bats came in different sizes. Some were bigger whereas some rather small, but all of them had sharp talons and grimly white teeth. With their marked preponderance in number, the bats besieged the barbarians like a fog of blood. Now and then, some would dive down towards the barbarians to sneak a bite.
However, the five barbarians showed not a trace of fear or confusion, and deftly made a circle with their backs stuck together. They swished their weapons quickly and the glint of metal merged into a patch of cold light that shielded them. Every attacking bat would be cut into pieces once they approached this shield.
Maintaining such a formula, the five barbarians slowly pushed on for the opening of the gorge. Three of the five were wearing light red clothes, and on their bare right arms were a tattoo of a giant viper, suggesting that they came from the Fiery Snake Tribe.
The leader of this small group was a bare-headed barbarian who had deeply sunken eyes and small pupils. Occasionally, those pair of eyes would shine coldly. He was a consummated Houtian warrior, and the rest of the fiery-snake members were both middle-stage Houtian warriors who could not be looked down upon in actual strength.
The three fiery-snake men were each holding a green whip, and wherever the whips whistled past, they left a track of bat blood in the air. The other two barbarians were also strongly-built, their skin rather dark. The green soft armor they wore each had a tattoo of the head of a black ox on it. This was the sign of the Brutal Bull Tribe. The two brutal bulls were also powerful warriors. The one with plaited hair had consummated Houtian level; his muscles protuberant and hard. The way he stood mightily causes the image an iron tower to come to mind. The other one who was dark-complexioned, was at advanced stage of Houtian level. The massive and menacing axes in their hands were rendered as though lightweight.
Therefore, however fearless these bats were, they still could not beat the concerted attack of the five barbarians. It did not take them too much time to reduce the bats' number dramatically to less than a hundred, which was around the time that they had approached the opening of the alley.
It appeared that the large column of sunlight was the bats' nightmare; soon, the rest of the blood-red bats had disappeared into the distant air in the form of a red cloud flying back into the depth of the gorge.
"Thank goddess! What a hell those bats were! Wicked and useless beasts that isn't even good for making magical materials! Too much of a pest!" The tower-like man of the Brutal Bulls tribe sighed indignantly.
"You could say so, but this gorge is the only way to the north district. Well, brother Mang Kun can count as half a Xiantian saint - I mean, how could the bats be a problem for you? Take it as a warm-up!" The bare-headed man of Fiery Snake tribe took back his green whip and echoed as he smiled.
The flattery was most welcome to the tower-like man. He showed a complacent smile, and then bursted out laughing thunderously.
"By the way, does brother Mang Kun have a further plan? What are we gonna do next?" Following the tower man's line of sight, the bare-headed barbarian asked in a seemingly casual tone.
"Of course to the Forbidden Area! No time to play with those weaklings in the periphery. Their souls are useless to us. This year's award is reeeealy delicious, so let's move on and hunt as many high-leveled beasts as we can!" The tower man gritted his teeth proudly and said.
In the past, warriors who were selected into the portal could keep one third of the beasts' souls he had hunted in the space for himself after the competition - a rule to keep the morale high. However, this time, the percentage was raised to a half.
"Haha! I am looking forward to brother Mang Kun's performance! If so, could we three ask for a favor from brother Mang, with all the beasts' souls we're gonna get?" The bare-headed barbarian fixed his eyes on Mang Kun, his face rather intense.
"Oh? What favor?" The tower man had a quick glimpse of the bags at the three fiery snakes' waist, asked curiously, being rather piqued by the idea.
"I'd like to have brother Mang kill somebody for me." The bare-headed man answered.
"Kill somebody? Of which tribe?" Mang Kun furrowed his brow and asked.
"It's not someone of our race. It's the human guy that followed the princess here. I assume that brother Kun must remember him." The bare-headed man said seriously in a muffled voice.
"I remember him vaguely. Did that guy offend your tribe?" Mang Kun nodded thoughtfully.
"That man killed our young master months ago. It's not convenient to take his life in the sacred mountain, but now that he has made it here, we must give him what he deserves!" The bare-headed man's eyes shone with malice.
"I see. Fine, I'll do it for you." Mang Kun promised in a light mood without further thinking.
"Wait. General Bronze, if I remember it right, that human does not seem quite strong. Maybe a middle stage Houtian warrior? Any one of your tribe can kill him with ease. Why do you guys ask brother Mang to do it?" The dark-faced barbarian beside Mang Kun suddenly thought of something and asked directly.
"But he did kill our young master... So that guy, he's not that simple. That's why we have to rely on your help. Otherwise..." The bare-headed man answered.
"Even so..." The answer seemed to have failed in satisfying the dark-faced man. He paused hesitatingly, as if contemplating something else.
"Well, end of the Q&A. Where's that human and I'll kill him in a second so that we can get moving and hunt beasts!" Mang Kun waved his dark-faced companion off and stopped his further questions impatiently.
"Thanks for brother Mang's help!" Saying so, the bare-headed man took out a round object made of bone on which a vivid picture of a viper was drawn. In the middle of the round plate was a scarlet pointer that looked just like a forked snake tongue.
The bare head then chanted some incantations, and the pointer immediately began swinging. Gradually, it decided on a direction, pointing to the west north.
"Good, the guy's in this direction. Let's go find him." A cold light flashed across the bare-headed man's eyes as he quickly led the team to the designated direction.
By a pond, a fiery red beast that looked like a wild boar was drinking by itself. The beast, at least ten meters in length, had giant tusks and scale-covered hide, rendering it exceedingly ferocious.
All of a sudden, a black arrow whizzed past from a nearby tree and disappeared quickly into the boar's head, its feathered end sticking out. The boar let out some bitter cries, threw its bulky body into wriggling like crazy, before it eventually thudded down to the ground after knocking down several big trees. Blood streamed out from its head.
From a tree by the pond, someone jumped down, his black cloak bulging in the wind. This was exactly Shi Mu, with the Air-Splitting Bow in hand, who strode to the red boar's side swiftly. He took out his bag and absorbed the beast's soul with it. A red light ball floated out of the boar's head, flying into the Soul-Gathering Bag like a meek servant.
By now, he had had twenty-odd souls sealed in his bag, but most of them belonged to beasts of primary Houtian level. Shi Mu hung the bag at his belt, ready to move. Suddenly, he raised his brow while stopping by the boar again. Carefully, he extracted the black arrow from the head and smashed the head with his black blade. After finishing, he set out hurriedly.
At this moment, he was between two high mountains that rolled endlessly into the distance. A narrow mountain valley tapered before him. With brows knitted tightly, he wondered if the road would lead to a dead end in front. After consulting the map, he was further frustrated by the lack of information on this area.
Shi Mu looked back, had a careful survey, and then pondered the next move. He was far too deep into this valley; to return by the old route would waste too much time.
After a hesitating for a moment, he resolved to move onwards as he had come.
The further he went, the narrower the valley became. Giant shades casted by the two flanking mountains reigned the entire valley with a dead silence. Besides, trees and vegetation grew suffocatingly heavy as he proceeded, and the ground was submerged by a thick deposit of dried leaves that had been there too long to remember their history. The leaves groaned under Shi Mu's quickly moving feet, making their voices reverberate in the old valley.
Shi Mu's face was tense and worried, though he did not slacked his pace all the time.
After two hours, he finally stopped with a bitter smile playing around his lips.
Perching on a fallen and withered old tree, he saw clearly that the mountain cliffs finally merged in front of him. No road at all ahead. The cliffs were precipitous and endlessly high, which meant that it would take him forever to climb to the top, let alone to find a road even if he could reach the end.
Faced with the reality, Shi Mu sighed deeply, and resigned to his only choice of walking back. But suddenly, his eyes caught onto something blackish and shiny hidden in the bush at the end of the road. It looked smooth and round. What could it be, at such a place?
He raised his eyebrows and walked up, but was stunned at what he saw after he pushed aside the grasses.
That blackish stuff was about thirty centimeters in width and was quite old. It should be a fallen part of some statue.
A statue? If it were outside in the human world, it would be something so common that it would never catch his attention. But ever since he entered the portal, all he had seen was a primitive world dominated by wild animals and plants. So why was a statue here signifying - be it human or barbarian - civilization?