Chapter 139: Raven God's Sacrificial Ceremony
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Novel Saga
A long green arrow was shot with a whistling sound. It moved at an extremely fast speed - like green lightning; it had appeared from behind a huge rock. There was a long and withered tree beside that rock; it was yellow in color, and was completely concealed by the dense bushes. The arrow had submerged into the withered tree.
The dead tree flew up high into sky, and tumbled down on the ground. It rolled for a while, and bumped into a grove of bushes. Several leaves fell down by the huge impact of the crash.
The withered tree turned out to be the huge head of a gigantic python; it was as big as a huge bucket. The python was over fifteen meters long. Its entire body was covered in yellow scales, and looked like solid rocks; there was a striped pattern on those scales.
The arrow had pierced deep into its head; only the tail of the arrow could be seen sticking out of its head.
The yellow python's huge body crazily twisted-and-turned for a while... Its long and sturdy tail struggled unyieldingly; and, it swayed all around wildly. And, some of the nearby towering trees fell prey to its struggling tail. In fact, they were struck so forcefully that they were uprooted and swept away to one side; several trees had collapsed on the ground with rustling sounds.
The python's unyielding struggle finally came to an end after a quarter-of-an-hour. Its white belly had turned upwards; its body twitched a few times, and then stopped moving.
Suddenly, few people sprang out from behind that huge rock; the rock was nearly twenty-thirty feet away from the python's body. These people were being led by Shi Mu; behind him were the people of the Flying Raven Tribe. Sha Jiao and Sha Xing were also among them. Most of the tribesmen carried animals' corpses on their backs.
Shi Mu held a three-feet-long bow in his hand; it was yellow in color. Two snakeheads could be seen on the either end of the bow. A black bowstring passed through the snakes' mouth, and connected both the ends.
This bow was the Sky Splitting Bow. Shi Mu had deliberately applied the beast's blood on the bow in order to conceal its identity from the barbarians. Moreover, he had dyed it yellow, and had made some decorations in order to make it look different.
Shi Mu's eyes flashed with satisfaction as he looked at the bow.
The Sky Splitting Bow seemed to be far more powerful than his own Purple Steel Bow. According to Feng Li, the charm spell that was carved on its surface was a special kind black magic from a certain barbarian tribe. And, these charm characters held some sort of mysterious ancient power even though they looked similar to the charm characters drawn by the humans.
This bow commanded a remarkable long firing-range due to the strange force of the black magic. In fact, its firing-range was far beyond the range of his Purple Steel Bow. Moreover, this unique bow could even enhance the might of an ordinary arrow; so much so that it could even pierce through armor.
Therefore, Shi Mu only needed to instill his magic power into it. Then, he could change the size of the bow to any extent as per his wish. This unique ability of the bow made it pretty convenient to carry.
The python that he had just killed was quite huge in size. And, it had possessed monstrous strength; so much so that it could've easily withstood a Hou Tian intermediate-level warrior. However, it looked extremely frail under the coordinated strength of the Sky Splitting Bow and the Wind-Chasing Arrow.
Several people rushed over to the python's corpse.
Sha Xing kicked the python's body. But, the huge python's body didn't even budge an inch. Sha Jiao couldn't help but reveal a petrified expression on her face.
"Big Brother Shi, you're awesome!" Sha Xing looked at Shi Mu and spoke in a loud voice. There was an expression of admiration on his face.
"That's right! This kind of python can change the color of its scales according to its surroundings. They're quite proficient in camouflaging. Moreover, their movements are subtle and soundless. So, one can barely sense their presence. Therefore, they're considered to be extremely sly beasts. In addition, their scales are solid as iron. Even the heaviest weapon might fail to cut them. But, Big Brother Shi killed that giant python at one fell swoop with just an arrow. You are a true 'Balut' of our kinsmen," another barbarian chimed-in loudly. He had curly golden hair. His eyes were also brimming with admiration.
"You're flattering me, Brother Hu Han. I could only kill this python because of my powerful weapon," Shi Mu smiled and said.
'Balut' was an honored title that was only given to brave warriors in the barbarians' culture. The barbarian people truly worshipped martial skills. And, they only gave this title to warriors they truly admired from the bottom of their hearts.
The camouflage skills of the yellow python were indeed quite difficult for ordinary people to deal with. But, Shi Mu had an upper hand. And, he could achieve this feat owing to the perfect coordination of his extraordinary eyesight with the special Bow and the Wind-Chasing Arrow.
Shi Mu moved a few steps forward and bent down. He then carefully pulled the arrow out of the python's head. He wiped the blood-off the arrowhead, and slipped it back in the arrow bag.
He had grabbed thirteen Wind Chasing Arrows from the green-skinned barbarian. These arrows contained dangerous might. However, Shi Mu had noticed something strange about these arrows. The strength of the black magic spell carved on these arrows had been reducing every time the arrow was used.
According to Shi Mu's estimation, each of the Wind Chasing Arrows could be used five times. After that, its magic power would completely disappear.
The surrounding people gazed at the bow and arrows in an envious manner.
The Flying Raven Tribe was an extremely poor tribe. So, they barely had metal-weapons. In fact, most of the tribesmen still used weapons made of bones.
"Elder Brother Shi, your bow and arrows are black magic weapons... aren't they?" Sha Jiao's beautiful eyes flickered as she asked.
"Yes, they are." Shi Mu nodded. Meanwhile, the bow in his hand flashed and started to shrink. It shrank and became a palm-sized bow. Shi Mu then slipped it into his shirt.
"Well, it's getting dark. We've already hunted enough animals. Let's go back to the village." Sha Jiao sensed that Shi Mu was reluctant to talk about this matter. So, she changed the topic of conversation.
Other people complied. They tied-up the python's body and lifted it up together. Then, they started to advance towards their village in high spirits.
They seemed to be in a blissful mood; they chatted and laughed merrily throughout the way.
The body of the yellow striped python was like a treasure for them. They could use its skin to make soft and exquisite armor. In addition, the python's muscles and bones could be used to make high-quality arrows and bows. Even its remnants could be used as an exchange for some valuable stuff from other tribes.
Moreover, the huge python's meat would be sufficient to feed the entire tribe for a couple of days.
The group soon arrived at their village with the huge yellow python in tow. And, this news stirred-up the entire tribe.
Some of the tribesmen and children hadn't ever seen a python before. So, they started to shout excitedly while jumping around the snake's body.
Shi Mu stood on one side with his hands crossed behind his back. He was looking around quietly.
The tribe had made lots of preparations for the evening's ceremony. Several high wooden platforms had been laid out in the center of the open space. Dozens of torches had been arranged around those platforms. But, they hadn't been ignited yet.
The statue of a black bird had been placed on the sacrificial altar. It had been carved out of some kind of an unknown material. However, the statue was so life-like and expressive that it looked alive.
However, the blood-red eyes of the black bird looked extremely strange. They were vaguely emitting a faint-red light. It seemed as if a pair of real eyes was constantly watching everything.
Shi Mu's eyebrows creased as he examined the bird's eyes with rapt attention. But, that eerie feeling disappeared from his mind the next moment; as if it was only his illusion.
Sha Jiao and others couldn't suppress their excitement. They recounted the story of how Shi Mu had killed the yellow striped python in front of the tribesmen. The people burst into an exclamation. And, they looked at Shi Mu with respect in their eyes.
"Hehehe... Warrior Shi Mu's strength is indeed unfathomable. He could kill such a gigantic python just in a tweak..." the Chief walked-up to Shi Mu and spoke with a smile.
"Chief, you're overpraising me. I'm just a stranger. So, I didn't wish to attend such a prestigious grand ceremony of your honored tribe with empty hands. So, I hunted and beheaded this python. I hope it would add a little tribute to the Raven God," Shi Mu retracted his eyes from the crowd and said with a smile.
"Warrior Shi Mu is so warm and generous. I - as the representative of our Raven God - accept your sincere gift," Sha Lang touched his chest with one hand and replied with deep veneration.
Sha Lang was the Chief of the tribe. Still, he wanted to offer sacrifice to the Raven God as he worshiped the Raven God more than any common tribesmen. And, Shi Mu's words were extremely close to his belief. So, they engraved a very profound impression of Shi Mu on his heart. He had been keeping a watchful eye on Shi Mu earlier. However, his suspicions had been swept away by now.
Sha Lang chatted with his children for some time. Then, he called out his tribesmen, and asked them to take care of the python.
Shi Mu had been standing on one side all this time. Suddenly, his eyebrows creased.
The strength of the totem curse that had been inflicted on his body had burst out all of a sudden. The sweltering pain pierced deep into his spirit like an awl.
His face blanched in pain, and his body staggered for a moment. But, he quickly regained his balance.
"Brother Shi, are you all right?" Sha Jiao noticed that Shi Mu's complexion had changed. So, she asked in an anxious manner.
"It's nothing. I'm just a little tired. I need some rest. I'll be perfectly fine after that." Shi Mu sucked in a deep breath. He then forced a smile and said while shaking his head.
Then, he walked up to Sha Lang and bid him farewell. After that, he turned around and walked towards his tent.
A hint of concern flashed across Sha Jiao's pretty face as she gazed at Shi Mu's receding figure.
Shi Mu hastily took off his clothes as soon as he returned into his tent in order to examine his chest. He saw that the huge snake's totem on his chest was exuding a faint-red light. It seemed as if blood was flowing out of his chest.
Shi Mu's face became pale as he saw this. The Eternally Doomed Soul spell had finally started to corrode his spirit.
Shi Mu took a long and deep breath. He then fished out a green jade bottle from his bosom. It was a gourd-shaped bottle, and was as big as a clenched fist. He pulled its lid and carefully poured its content on his palm.
A thick and transparent light-blue liquid flowed out of it. It was the unicorn viper's blood that he had purchased before he had left the Lan City.
He carefully smudged the blue blood on the totem on his chest. And, it immediately emitted a cool and soothing feeling. Then, the red light of his totem slowly started to fade away.
Shi Mu exhaled a long breath. The pain had made him perspire all over his body even though it had existed for a short period of time.
Shi Mu put-away the bottle. Then, he stood up and walked to the window. He gazed towards the boundless horizon in the east. He tightly clenched his fists. And, his vision gradually became calm and cold.
"Mother, your beloved Mu will definitely survive... and will someday become a strong warrior. You rest assured..."
The bonfire was finally lit-up under the curtain of darkness. Its glow painted the entire sky red.
The Raven God's sacrificial ceremony had finally begun. This ceremony was held once a year.
The tribesmen had gathered before the sacrificial altar. And, Shi Mu sat with Sha Lang and the other elders of the tribe.
The great ceremony was divided into two steps. First - Sha Lang who was the Chief of the Tribe would come in front of the altar and chant a hymn for the Raven God. Second - the entire tribe would come before the high altar, and present their offerings to the Raven God. They would then pray to the Raven God to keep showering his blessings on their tribe in the coming year.
After that, it would be time for an all-night carnival.
A huge bonfire was ignited before the altar. And, its blazing flames were illuminating the entire tribe.
A huge number of people swarmed around the high-piled bonfire. And, all kinds of rare meats and delicacies were placed in front of them. These edibles delicacies were being shared among the tribesmen without any discrimination.
The cattle's horn cups and camel-bone bowls were filled with exquisite wines. A crisp and melodious sound of twelve stringed musical weapons was making the atmosphere extremely pleasing. The tribesmen were dancing merrily to the melodious sound while they held each other's hands. Their chorus song sounded extremely warm and soothing to the heart.
"Warrior Shi Mu... please..." Sha Lang filled a bowl with wine and passed it over to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu revealed a faint smile as he accepted it. He then raised his head and gulped it down.
The wine made by the barbarian people was far inferior to the high-quality wine of the human race. But, this wine was made from the yellow striped python's gallbladder that they had hunted. Therefore, it had a peculiar yet pleasant fragrance that made it quite delectable.
"Nice wine!" Shi Mu put down the camel-bone bowl. He then exclaimed loudly as he stroked his knees.
"Warrior Shi Mu is being formal. You've been to various sections of the society. So, how can you like this poor wine of a small tribe?" Sha Lang said in a humble manner. However, the gleam of happiness in his eyes had grown brighter after hearing Shi Mu's words.
"The Chief is being modest. The strong aromatic flavor of your honored tribe's wine is to my liking. Besides, it has a unique flavor... probably due to the python's gallbladder that has been blended into it. I've never tasted a better wine," Shi Mu laughed and said.
Shi Mu's polite words delighted Sha Lang even though he knew that he was being overly courteous. So, he too started to laugh merrily.
Suddenly, a burst of cheering voice was heard.
It wasn't clear when Sha Jiao had appeared amid the crowd in front of the high-piled firewood.
She was dressed in a fiery-red long skirt. There was a silver band on her smooth forehead; it was embedded with a crescent moon-shaped stone. Red threads with hanging silver bells were tied around her slender wrists and ankles. This mesmerizing portrayal was radically different from the usual valiant and heroic disposition of a barbarian maiden. Her long skirt served as a perfect contrast against her exquisite and refined figure.