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Chapter 841: The Blackwater Shaman!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
w.a.n.g Chong was stunned, barely able to believe his ears. Hulayeg's actions were simply mind-blowing, and not even w.a.n.g Chong had ever imagined that he would employ this sort of strategy.
"But will this strategy really be effective?"
Hulayeg's home had been raided by a party personally led by that Fourth Prince, and previous to the battle at Qixi Armory, this Fourth Prince had followed the Black Wolf Yabgu for a long period of time, listening to and carrying out his orders every day, so he definitely would not have a good impression of Hulayeg. In normal circ.u.mstances, it would be quite decent if he didn't lunge at Hulayeg and bite off a piece of the traitor's flesh. It would be almost impossible for Hulayeg to alter the prince's impressions of him.
"Why else would he have himself injured? Xu Keyi really did beat him, making no efforts to spare him any pain. And while Hulayeg was lying on the ground, his face pale from the pain and his forehead caked with sweat, he was still insisting that Xu Keyi should beat him a little harder. I have to admit that this Turkic horse merchant has some ability. The Turkic Fourth Prince has been imprisoned together with him for a few days, listening every day to him harp on about how he's just a simple merchant who, for the sake of saving him, ended up getting savagely beaten. And that Fourth Prince actually believed him," Xu Qiqin said, her hands covering the smile on her mouth.
"Oh? If that really is the case, then this fellow is truly astounding! It seems like he's putting everything on the line to get back to the Turkic steppe."
w.a.n.g Chong was gradually infected by Xu Qiqin's melodious laughter, a smile slowly appearing in his eyes.
"Forget it. I'll just let him continue doing what he wants!"
Meanwhile, on the distant Mount Sanmi, from the tent of the Western Turkic Khagan came a furious bellow that echoed through the heavens.
"What? They've refused us again! Proposing such impossible conditions, do they really think we Western Turks will agree?"
Within the ma.s.sive golden tent, Ishbara Khagan was pacing back and forth like an enraged lion, all of Mount Sanmi trembling at his roars.
"Khagan, we've already asked to negotiate three times, but they've stubbornly insisted on five hundred thousand of the best Turkic warhorses and nothing else. They've even said that if we don't agree, they'll send the Fourth Prince's corpse to Mount Sanmi."
A scout was kneeling in the tent, trembling in fear, his head almost buried in the ground. He didn't even dare to risk a glance upward.
"b.a.s.t.a.r.d! Then let them send the Fourth Prince's corpse! Tell them that five hundred thousand of the best Turkic warhorses is simply out of the question!"
Ishbara Khagan was fuming with rage, his incensed voice like peals of thunder over the skies of Mount Sanmi. Everyone who heard it s.h.i.+vered, their hearts thumping in fear. The kneeling scout pressed himself even lower against the ground, not daring to utter a word.
"Why haven't you gone!"
Ishbara Khagan viciously glared.
The scout shuddered and immediately got up and left. But he had only reached the entrance of the tent when, boom! Black energy suddenly rushed in, and a black curtain suddenly dropped down from the skies, shrouding the entire tent. The scout was so caught off guard that he thumped against this black barrier of energy and almost ended up falling to the ground.
"Paying respects to the Venerable Priest!"
Despite the suddenness of it all, the scout not only immediately got back up, but flung himself back on the ground in prostration, his head pressing against the ground in panic. Even the enraged Ishbara Khagan took in a deep breath when he saw the black curtain descend, his anger cooling.
The entire tent fell quiet.
Ishbara Khagan glanced outside and suddenly called out, "Blackwater Shaman!"
"Khagan, quell your anger. The decisions regarding the Fourth Prince must be made after long consideration and cannot be guided by emotion."
Light and shadow began to twist and flicker at the entrance, and as an old and hoa.r.s.e voice spoke, a hunched figure only around five feet tall walked in. He wore a black robe that reached the ground and gripped a black bone cane topped by a skull. With this black-robed man as the center, the shadows in the tent began to s.h.i.+ft, forming countless savage beasts that seemed to surge out of the man.
In addition to that, a strange odor began to fill the golden tent, pungent to the extreme. It seemed like the scent of a bear, and also like that of a leopard or tiger. In brief, it was like a throng of beasts had entered the tent.
Only very special existences in the Western Turkic Khaganate could give off this sort of feeling and enter Ishbara Khagan's tent whenever they pleased: the shaman priests.
No one knew the origin of the shaman priests, only that when the Turkic people first emerged, the shaman priests already had a long history on the Turkic steppe and possessed an extremely revered status. The legends said that the shaman priests could communicate with all animals and even with the G.o.ds above. They knew the past and could see into the future. Their bodies were shrouded in mystifying fogs that concealed infinite secrets.
Besides that, all shaman priests wielded an enigmatic and inexplicable strength. This strength was not a martial art, but it was even more terrifying and mysterious. The people of the steppe called it sorcery.
The famous legend regarding the shaman priests originated more than one thousand years ago, when the Central Plains was governed by that most formidable Emperor Wu of Han. Cavalry from the Central Plains swept over the desert and steppe, time and time again pus.h.i.+ng back the elite Turkic cavalry. In that age, the Turkic steppe was covered with corpses and irrigated by blood. In the most prosperous and most powerful period of the Turkic empire, it encountered the toughest sovereign of the Central Plains in a thousand years. After repeated wars, the Turkic empire rapidly waned to become unimaginably weak.
Such an event was unprecedented on the steppe.
And when that Emperor Wu of Han was ready to send one last expedition to the north to finally exterminate the threat of the Turks once and for all, everyone on the steppe was trembling in fear at the coming calamity. It was at that moment that the strongest shaman priest led the several hundred shaman priests of the steppe to cast a sorcery on a road the army of the Central Plains needed to take to reach the steppe. The shaman priests clashed with the arts pract.i.tioners of the Central Plains and inflicted grievous casualties and vile diseases on this most powerful army.
Although the shaman priests also suffered terrible losses, with only a tiny number surviving, they succeeded in breaking this supreme cavalry army and saving the Turkic people from disaster. Afterwards, all the Turkic Khagans treated the shaman priests with great respect, with the most respected being the shamans that sprung from the branch of the shaman leader.
The Blackwater Shaman was precisely a member of this ill.u.s.trious branch!
"Although five hundred thousand warhorses are precious, the worth of the Fourth Prince truly is comparable. He is tied to the destiny and future of our Western Turkic Khaganate. You know this, Khagan. You have seen the prophecies."
The Blackwater Shaman slowly ambled forward, taking a step, pausing, and then taking another step…
Ishbara Khagan seemed to calm down at the word 'prophecies', but he quickly turned angry again. "But you can't even find five hundred thousand of the best Turkic warhorses in the entire Western Turkic Khaganate! It's just not a request that can be fulfilled!"
The Turks were people that lived on horseback, and so what they had the most of was naturally horses. But those horses were differentiated by quality. They had as many ordinary warhorses as one could want, several million warhorses of good quality, but five hundred thousand of the best and rarest quality of warhorse? The entire Western Turkic Khaganate probably didn't have that many, and would they really give them to a Han? Would this not be supporting the enemy?
After all, the Western Turkic Khaganate and the Great Tang Empire were still enemies at war. He could not agree to this condition.
"Five hundred thousand of the best Turkic warhorses is naturally impossible, but we cannot not negotiate with the City of Steel, and we cannot not save the Fourth Prince. Those five hundred thousand warhorses are just a negotiation trick to get the best price from us. If they didn't want to negotiate, the Fourth Prince would already be dead, and they would not have wasted so much time refusing Khagan's entreaties. For the future of the Western Turkic Khaganate, Khagan, you must be calm."
The Blackwater Shaman continued to speak as he slowly moved forward. A roiling black fog covered his face, serving as a veil that concealed his true appearance.
Ishbara Khagan's face froze, and he was instantly speechless.
Ishbara Khagan did not dote on the Fourth Prince for no reason. A terrible danger threatened the steppe, one that was more frightening and dreadful than any other peril in history, and the first to experience this dread had been the shaman priests of the steppe. They could hear the voices of the G.o.ds and knew the mysteries of past and future. This power had been proved countless times already.
The steppe would one day be destroyed, and this day was not very far in the future!
This was a prophecy Ishbara Khagan had heard when he was just a child.
Very few people on the entire steppe knew this secret, and Ishbara Khagan only knew of it because he was a member of the imperial clan. From that moment onward, he had been plagued by a deep concern, until the day the Fourth Prince was born. 'This child is the hope of the entire Turkic steppe.' 'His existence is tied to the future of all peoples.' 'When the moment comes, he will awaken to his mission and lead the Turkic people in escaping that dreadful disaster.' The shaman priests' predictions regarding that child were deeply branded in Ishbara Khagan's mind.
It was these predictions that made him so deeply cherish the Fourth Prince. Based on what the shaman priests had said, his worth was immeasurable.
"Must I truly be threatened by a teenager who is still wet behind the ears?"
Ishbara Khagan groaned, his heart filled with unwillingness. The resplendent sovereign of the steppe, Ishbara Khagan's name echoed throughout all the countries of the world, and even the Protector-Generals and Great Generals of the Central Plains had to treat him cautiously. But now, some teenager in that City of Steel was demanding an absurd ransom from him and issuing brazen threats. How could someone of Ishbara Khagan's status accept this?