On the vast pasture roved an array of beasts, the most frightening kind among which was the pasture wolves. Those gregarious animals often lived in packs of several hundred or thousands. Under the leadership of their king, the wolves could practically overpower any other creatures on the pasture. Even the local barbaric tribes had to retreat if they crossed paths with a large-scaled wolf pack.
For that reason, all the pasture tribes worshiped wolves.
As ages went by, the barbaric tribes had innumerable encounters with the wolf packs, and the two got on quite well with each other. The barbaric tribes then established the Wolf Cavalry. Their soldiers could communicate with the huge wolves on a spiritual level. Later, the Wolf Temple became the largest religious building on the pasture, and all the tribes there had to pay respects those working in the Wolf Temple. Hence, people in the Wolf Temple had superb religious power, which even transcended the political power.
But, of course, besides the Wolf Temple that worshiped wolves, there were some other animals being revered in the pasture.
The pasture tarantula was one of them.
And those who worshiped the tarantula were called members of the Spider Shrine.
The notions of the Spider Shrine were quite popular in the southwest of the pasture. The pasture tarantula that they worshiped was a very dreadful predator carrying natural poison. It often lurked in the darkness and seldom killed those who were stronger than it. It was said that a fully-grown tarantula could be several meters in height, which was surely a huge monster. The tarantula king was intelligent enough to have psychic powers and able to confront a wolf king of a massive pack. Some nomadic tribes in the pasture, those that had no fixed boundaries of their territories, were plagued by the tarantula kind. But as years passed, the awe for that monstrous creature was aroused inside them. So, they succumbed to the tarantula king in exchange for some weird Cultivation Methods and powers and then founded the Spider Shrine.
On the vast pasture, the Spider Shrine represented evil, death, darkness, and horror.
The experts who joined the Spider Shrine had all sold their souls to the tarantula king for its demonic Cultivation Methods, so they turned into natural assassins. They committed all manners of crimes, including assassinating, poisoning, kidnapping, hiring killers, and made no distinction between good and evil.
Therefore, upon hearing the name Spider Shrine, all of the pasture warriors showed terror on their faces.
And on seeing that emaciated little elder in a blackish green robe stepping out from the darkness, the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe and the pasture Army Advisor both turned ashen-faced.
“You’re one of the four Dark Lords of the Spider Shrine—the Green Spider?” gasped the pasture Army Advisor.
“Hah-hah, junior, it’s nice that you recognize me.” The little elder gave a rasping laugh and said, “Now that you know who I am, you can die without regrets.”
“When did your Spider Shrine collude with the Qin people?” demanded the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe in a deep voice.
The old man called Green Spider answered with a grimace, “It’s just business. Someone wants the Moon-shooting Tribe to be wiped out and made a deal with the Qin people. I simply took the money and came here to be a supervisor. Tut-tut. Well, of course, to wring your head off is also a big credit I prepare to take. Now, all you can do is to blame it on your stupidity. For a woman, you should leave the pasture and go to the Qin’s territory! Like the sea dragon stranded or the tiger defeated, you are bound to be killed!”
“My Moon-shooting Tribe has thirty thousand soldiers and three hundred thousand people. We never lack talents and specialists in martial arts, not to mention that my father is the new Jebe of the pasture, an archery whiz. Since we have so many brilliant members, even if you kill me, my Moon-shooting Tribe will not be destroyed!” thundered the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe.
“Humph, if you and your guards all died in the territory of the Qin empire, guess what? Will your old man and his brothers lose their minds? If the thirty thousand soldiers wage war against the Qin people, how many do you think can make it back? Plus, what if someone takes the advantage of the plight the Moon-shooting Tribe is in to launch a surprise attack?”
The old man called Green Spider laughed viciously.
The expression of the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe instantly altered.
He could not be more familiar with the dispositions of his father and uncles. If he were to die there that night, he knew that once the news, perhaps highly colored, was brought back, his father would send the army out and their tribe would be in real danger.
“So, the reason that the Spider Shrine resorted to all its means to trouble me and my sisters is simply to draw Brother Tie into the Qin’s territory, isn’t it?” The Goddess of Martial Arts suddenly cut in.
The old man called Green Spider roared with laughter. “On the pasture, who doesn’t know the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe is smitten with the Virgin Goddess Qing Yan. Only when you were kidnapped could he disregard the warnings of his father and uncles and sneak out to the Qin’s territory… Tonight, I’ll do you a favor by making you two a couple in the underworld. Well, anyway, the head of the Virgin Goddess Qing Yan is indeed worth a lot.”
The pasture Goddess of Martial Arts cast a look at Tie Muzhen, the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe, and then sighed deeply.
Tie Muzhen, by contrast, seemed more valiant and heartened. He gave a cold laugh and said, “If the four Dark Lords of the Spider Shrine are all here, perhaps we will truly meet our doom tonight. However, it’s only you here. How dare you talk big like this? You have awfully underestimated us. I’m afraid after tonight, the four Dark Lords of the Spider Shrine will only be three.”
He wrenched the handles of his machetes together, turning them into a strangely-shaped bow, and attached the string to its ends. Immediately, the pasture warrior behind him came to his side and pinned the one-meter-long iron quiver he had carried on his back on the earth and supported it with steady hands.
An arrow was fitted to the string. Tie Muzhen was about to demonstrate his brilliant archery skills.
The old man called Green Spider, however, broke into a fit of wild laughter.
“Who told you I am here alone? An assassin never does things he is not sure of. Hah-hah, although I am quite confident about my power, I do not feel like taking on the two most talented people in the pasture all by myself…”
But something unexpected occurred before his remark faded.
A jet of white light streaked across the sky before landing on the ground and turning into the zombie-like old man with a hawk nose.
That old freak had returned.
“Who? Who killed my junior fellow apprentice?” With a maniacal air, he was practically squirting the killing intent from every part of his body. His eyes, scarlet as two vortexes of blood, were transfixed upon the pasture Goddess of Martial Arts and her company. Then, the freak shouted, “Say it, who did it?” Obviously, he had not found out who was the murderer that had killed his junior.
Tie Muzhen, the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe, and the pasture Army Advisor and many other soldiers instantly paled.
The old Green Spider alone was already hard to deal with. At the moment, with the arrival of a zombie-like freak… If it could be said that they had a fifty-fifty chance to break out a moment ago, their odds had dropped sharply just then, perhaps close to zero.
The exit of Liufang Street was right there under their noses. However, it seemed that they could no longer rush through that gate.
Taking a look all around, the pasture Army Advisor saw the morale of the army plummet. He knew that was not good, so he hastily announced, “This is no big deal. We still have our backup…” As a matter of fact, there was a small troop on the other side of the exit waiting to help them. He turned to the masses and said, “Tonight, what we need to do is merely to escape from this place. It’s not necessary to fight them head-on.” He was encouraging the soldiers to keep their spirits up.
Surely, at his words, flames of hope were lit again among those pasture soldiers.
Even so, the pasture Army Advisor clearly knew: that night, perhaps most of them would die there.
He figured that since the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe and the Goddess of Martial Arts were the most powerful, as long as the others could cover the two and help them escape, the imminent disaster for the Moon-shooting Tribe would be avoided.
“Backup? It’s merely your last struggle before death, isn’t it? I know, you are still placing your hope on those so-called reinforcing troops. Haw-haw, do you think they are still alive?” The old man called Green Spider displayed a wicked, brutal smile before saying, “Good. I’ll dash all your hopes!”
Before his voice died away, several clatters sounded, and dozens of human heads were tossed out from the darkness.
Blood gushed to the ground. The hair worn in a bun and the facial features, which were now stained by dirt, were still distinctly visible—they were all the heads of the pasture warriors.
“Ah… Brother Tie Shi! And Brother Da…” With a glance on the ground, the face of the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe contorted in pain. He had recognized that those beheaded were precisely the warriors who were assigned to pick them up outside Liufang Street according to the plan. But as things were, all of them were killed!
‘Every move we devised has been foreseen by the enemy.’
The pasture Army Advisor was terrified.
Meanwhile, a sense of helplessness gradually took over his other feelings.
In the territory of the Qin people, their power was, after all, too weak. Even though the Army Advisor was highly resourceful, he could not conjure a miracle anyway. He had devoted his entire energy and wisdom into that night’s mission, but sadly, it was not enough.
Looking at the heads of their compatriots, the eyes of the pasture Goddess of Martial Arts reflected a blaze of wrath.
And the rest of the pasture warriors and female Wolf Warriors, after overcoming their grief, also displayed the flames of fury on their features.
Numerous weapons pounded the armors, producing a stirring and majestic lament.
Each of the pasture warriors stopped panicking. Instead, they regained their composure and started thumping their weapons against the armors while stamping their right foot, raising their left hand, and singing some abstruse and distant tune. It sounded like wolf howls, but also resembled the rustles of moaning the pasture made when a gale of wind swept past. The movements of the warriors conformed to the same rhythm, their voice sorrowful and indignant.
That was the battle song and dance of the Moon-shooting Tribe.
Whenever a fierce fight was about to begin or they were in a desperate predicament, the soldiers of the Moon-shooting Tribe would sing that old battle song that had once been heard on every part of the pasture.
That night, they were ready to fight their last fight.
Upon witnessing such a sight, even the old man called Green Spider turned a delicate shade of green.
It was attributable to that imposing manner that the thirty armored soldiers of the Moon-shooting Tribe had managed to conquer the pasture and squeeze to the top ten pasture forces. That willpower they had was rather fearful, even to those pasture barbaric groups who were known for their savagery.
The zombie-like freak, who had been thrown into delirium by the shock of his junior fellow’s death, was goaded to fresh madness by that momentum. He bellowed, “You’re asking for death. All of you… Tell me, who killed my junior fellow? He must be your accomplice. Aaaah…” He almost cried his eyes out, and then, like a totally deranged man, he raced like a whirlwind and attacked the warriors straight away.
A horrifying dark blue chill swept over like a tsunami.
The Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe drew the bow and fired his arrows.
Nevertheless, his attack could not stop the insane zombie-like freak.
The battle commenced in an instant.
The old man called Green Spider smirked callously and slowly blended into the darkness. As an assassin, he was skillful in taking people’s lives with the aid of terrain, darkness, shadows, and chaos. Since he had sealed the whole exit of Liufang Street with the killing net of spiders’ threads, he knew no one could escape.
“Ow…” A warrior of the Moon-shooting Tribe cried in alarm. Next, his arms quietly ruptured, and his body cracked in two from the waist.
In a few seconds, scores of more warriors of the Moon-shooting Tribe died on the battlefield.
The team of the female Wolf Warriors lost six or seven members.
“Say it! Who killed my junior fellow?” the zombie-like freak hollered frenetically as he punched two warriors of the Moon-shooting Tribe into ice cubes.
The two experts in the Natural Realm abruptly sprinted into the troop like two tigers leaping into a herd of sheep. Even though the pasture warriors were incredibly tough, the striking strength gap could not be fixed by courage and willpower. Only the Junior Chief of the Moon-shooting Tribe, the pasture Army Advisor, and the Goddess of Martial Arts were unhurt thanks to their immense strength. Still, all that they managed was to protect themselves because they already had no extra energy to spare for others.
Shortly, half of the pasture force was lost.
“Tell me, who did it? Which guy killed my junior fellow… Ahhh, you should all die… Who did it?” The zombie-like freak probably had really lost his sanity. He crumbled and dug out a female Wolf Warrior’s heart, then directly fed it into his mouth and munched. As though a devil were at work, he asked over and over again, “Who did it?”
“Shoot, I’m late.”
A voice rang from a distance out of the blue.
“Are you talking about that puffy-eyed chap? He exploded after taking my punch,” said that voice.
Against the moon-kissed dark sky, a tall figure emerged, who flew like a flash of lightning and instantly landed on the tip of a stone tower a little away from the battlefield, looking down upon the sight.
As the moonlight poured on his silver mask, it looked like ripples were glimmering on his face, rendering the expression of the mask more like torn between smiling and weeping. He might be grimacing, or else, laughing at all living things. Anyway, it seemed inexplicably eerie.
‘The man with the silver smiley-ghost mask!’
“Is it him?” A tinge of overjoy gleamed in the eyes of the pasture Army Advisor.
He had instinctively detected that a turning point of their struggle was just around the corner.