Chapter 18: Flee!
The night went by smoothly. Xu Min spent his time cultivating while Cao Cao slept on his lap. A few times during the night, a few beasts would come close by. Cao Cao would open his eyes and quietly look through the dark night, only to close them as soon as the beasts vanished into the dark forest.
As the sun rose in the sky and rays of sunshine were beginning to shine through the leaves, Xu Min finally opened his eyes, and the golden specks around him vanished. As he stood up, he forgot about the small snake on his lap. It fell to the floor of the nest, and Xu Min instantly bent down to pick him up.
This snake was much stronger than Xu Min. Not only the snake, but also its parent was a being that he did not wish to insult. Thus, as soon as the juvenile snake landed on the ground, Xu Min instantly picked him up, gently patted his jade green head, and apologized mentally.
‘Cook me some more meat tonight,’ the snake said with a sneaky smile on its face. ‘As long as you cook me two beasts, I will forgive you.’
‘You’ll grow fat,’ Xu Min replied. Internally, he wished that he was capable of capturing two beasts. He suddenly stood up and noticed that something was not the way it was supposed to be.
‘Cao Cao,’ he called out with his internal voice. ‘Can you feel anyone close by? I feel as though something is wrong.’
The snake raised its head. As his tongue slithered in and out of his mouth, he looked at their surroundings.
‘There are quite a few humans around us,’ he finally answered. His face seemed apathetic about their presences. However, Xu Min’s heart skipped a beat, and a cold sweat appeared on his back.
‘How many?’ he asked silently. He did not wish to hear the answer, but he knew that he needed to know. He suddenly remembered the numerous mercenaries he had seen the night before at his old nest. He could not help but curse himself for cooking food even though he knew that there wa danger close by.
‘They are still looking for us. You can just escape through the treetops the same way you did last night,’ Cao Cao said as though he thought it was that easy. Right now, Xu Min knew he had no choice other than to try and escape.
‘Let us play a game,’ the juvenile voice suddenly rang out, ‘I know you want these mercenaries dead, so let us play the game of who can kill the most!’
Hearing that, Xu Min felt like knocking the snake out. Although the snake was strong, it was unlikely that it was strong enough to defeat the mercenaries by itself. The black-haired, young man knew perfectly well that he was incapable of dealing with more than one of even the weakest mercenary.
‘Right,’ the snake said, as though he had read Xu Min’s thoughts. ‘I forgot you are so weak. How about I say that the more I kill, the more meat you have to cook for me!’
‘Cao Cao, are you certain that you are capable of dealing with these many mercenaries?’ Xu Min finally sighed, as he looked at the little snake who laid in his arms. Had it been its father, he had no doubt that it would be able to defeat them. However, he did not think that the little snake could handle these many mercenaries. Unless absolutely necessary, Xu Min decided that he would not start a battle.
Standing up, Xu Min rushed from one branch to another as he traveled across the treetops. Fortunately, none of the mercenaries below had noticed him. For some time, he rushed towards the outskirts of the forest, the only location where he could exit the forest.
As Xu Min went further and further towards the outskirts of forest, the trees became more and more sparse. The distance between the trees increased, making it harder for him to keep travelling on top of the trees until he had to travel on the ground.
What shocked him was that the ground was littered with people. For once, these people paid no attention to each other. Instead, they were in large groups, and seemed to be making their way into the forest, one group at a time.
He was quite curious as to the reason why these many mercenaries entered the forest and started to search like mad men. Xu Min decided to keep to his plan. A few moments later, he left the safety of the large trees. Once more, he started walking towards one of the cities.
Having left the forest, Cao Cao was filled with astonishment as he perched on Xu Min’s shoulder. He looked at everything that was happening around him and observed the barren land in front of them.
‘There are no trees here!’ Cao Cao said with astonishment in his voice. ‘Are we going to travel through areas like this? I like this. It’s new,’ he commented. Xu Min just chuckled and kept walking on the outskirts of the forest. He continued until he reached one of the small mercenary villages.
Seeing the village in front of him, the chuckle grew into a smirk. ‘Be careful here,’ Xu Min warned the snake on his shoulder, ‘This is a village, a home for humans. We need to go in and sell some of the herbs your father allowed me to pick.’
‘A village?’ the juvenile voice was filled with curiosity. The black-haired youth laughed out loud and shocked a few of the humans who were rushing towards the city.
‘Right, just stay on my shoulders, and I’ll let you see the entire world,’ Xu Min said, laughing. The snake felt how its heart quivered with excitement. Coiling itself around his neck, the two youngsters went into the village. They walked on the main road while looking at shops one after another that had been set up on the side.
On the side, there was an inn with loud and cheerful noises coming out from within. Next to it, there were various shops. Some shops sold street food, while other shops focused on armor and weaponry.
Xu Min was looking everywhere to try to find a pharmacy. Soon enough, he quickly noticed the drooling snake coiled around his neck as it was looking at one food stall after another.
‘Just wait a little,’ Xu Min laughed. ‘I need to sell these flowers first, and then I’ll have money to purchase as much food as you want.’
The young man was not used to selling items, and he was not certain that he knew exactly how much medicinal herbs were worth. However, he knew that they were worth quite a lot. They were so much that he should be able to feed the snake until it burst.
Xu Min did not plan on selling all the herbs he had gathered. Even if he sold some, he should still have enough money to fund his trip for another distant forest.
While the black-haired young man had been focused on his plans for the future, he found himself in front of a store where the scent of medicinal herbs wafted out. On top of the door, a big sign with the word ‘Pharmacy’ was visible.
Smiling, Xu Min stepped in through the door as his eyes shone with excitement. As he moved towards the counter, the snake on his shoulders lifted its head and looked at everything with great curiosity.
Although Xu Min went towards the counter, he gazed around him. He was observing all the medicinal herbs shown around.
Picking up four herbs, Xu Min placed them on the counter. Behind the desk,an elderly man looked at them with an astonished look on his face.
“You picked up all of these from within our Forest of the Snake?” he asked curiously. Just as that man was curious, so was Xu Min when he found that the entire forest was named after a snake.
The elderly man adjusted his glasses slightly. He looked at Xu Min once more, his eyes widening in surprise as he saw the snake which was resting on his shoulders. Saying no more, he took the plants and started observing them.
“These plants are quite old,” he started. “Definitely over fifty years old, I would pay twenty gold coins for each of them.”
Hearing that, Xu Min’s eyes widened. Although he knew that they were worth quite a bit, he had never expected it to be that much. He quickly accepted.
Pausing for a moment, he wondered whether he should say that there were even more herbs. But before he did, he managed to stop himself as he noticed some long glances sent his way by others within the room.
Taking the gold coins, he quickly left the room. The first thing he went towards was a street stall where he purchased food worth one whole gold coin.
Looking at the food, the eyes of the snake widened in amazement. His little tongue slithered constantly as though he could taste the food from the scent alone.
Xu Min smiled as he saw the reaction.Deep within, he was pleased with the fact that the snake would be so easy to manage as long as he had access to food.
The plan was quite simple. This snake demon beast was without a doubt incredibly strong. He was so strong that even Three-Star Warriors would be nothing next to him. Making friends was the most important part for now, something which Xu Min fully understood.
Cao Cao was still only a juvenile. How could Xu Min not know that the older the snake grew, the stronger it would become. His father alone had an aura similar to that of Overseer Wang Li. It was obvious that although it took time for him to grow, it was definitely beneficial for Xu Min to befriend the little snake quickly. If that required him to spend money on food, then so be it.
Extending his hand, Xu Min took one skewer of meat after another and lifted it to the snake. He was coiled around his neck and hummed in happiness. His eyes shone with delight as the food was eaten at a rapid pace.
Seeing this, the black-haired man could not help but chuckle a bit. After feeding all the meat he had bought to the small snake, he looked around the various locations before he decided to head towards the inn. Although he was capable of returning to the forest and make another nest, he quickly decided on getting a room at the inn. He needed to see if he could come across some information about the large number of mercenaries who had appeared out of nowhere. He especially want information about why these men had decided on entering the forest in small groups of people.
Xin Min was walking towards the inn. He noticed that even here, with all the shops selling items such as weapons and armories, a lot of mercenaries were present. They were there even in the typically quiet pharmacy was filled with people who were buying elixirs in bulks.
After looking at the men, he was unable to conceal a frown as he noticed that many of the men in front of him were not mercenaries. They were wearing uniforms or armors adorned with random family emblems. These were not mercenaries, but instead were soldiers. A group of young men were leading these soldiers, the geniuses from the younger generation.
Seeing this many families present, Xu Min could understand that something was going on. However, he was smart enough to not try walking towards any random man on the road to ask what was happening. Instead, he moved towards the inn and entered into the dim light.A smirk appeared on his face as he looked forward to the information he would be able to pick up from the bustling shop.