Chapter 8: A Hundred Gold Coins
Hesitating slightly, Xu Min looked at the food that had been handed to him. Although he had decided to rely only on himself, his stomach did not seem to agree with him now. It started growling loudly, making the young boy’s face turn crimson.
Fortunately, Wang Li showed no signs of reacting to the loud growling sounds of Xu Min’s stomach; instead, he kept pouring the warm soup into his mouth and as soon as he had emptied the bowl, he would pour a new serving for himself. He was eating to his heart’s content. Looking at Wang Li, one would think that they had found the most comfortable man alive.
Smiling slightly, the young boy placed the bowl to his lips and tried some of the broth, only to realize that the flavor was amazing. He quickly ate in a hurried but satisfying way. It was as though the food was rejuvenating his starved and exhausted body.
“So, kid.” Wang Li said after they finished the entire pot of soup, “Are you going to be meditating all night, or do you plan on getting some sleep?”
Looking at the old man with vigilance, Xu Min wondered whether or not it would be possible for anyone to sleep if they were in his situation and responded by moving towards the wall again.
He fell to the floor and quickly sat with his legs crossed and his hands resting in his lap. He closed his eyes and started breathing in the way Overseer Tian had taught him.
Usually, it would take some time for a young boy such as Xu Min to get adjusted to his new surroundings; however, after living in the forest without any proper rest for two years, Xu Min learned how to completely disregard his surroundings and only react to the essence of the heavens and the earth.
While Xu Min was very attentive and alert, he was also aware that it was impossible for him to escape Wang Li’s grasp. As long as the older man wished to look after him, the young boy had absolutely no way to go against him. Since this was the case, he decided to use the opportunity that he was seated in a warm room with a roof above his head to cultivate, hoping that at some point he would break through and transcend the Student Warrior rank.
Although this was Xu Min’s hope, the young boy was aware that despite the fact that he was cultivating every time he could, he was unfortunately in need of some kind of challenge to push his limits. But he simply had no clue how to challenge himself other than how he had been doing for the past few years.
Every day he challenged his physical limits and transcended them while working hard. Previously this constant cycle was accomplished within the forest; however, from now on he would do so at the city harbor.
More than anything, Xu Min wished to find a teacher who would assist him with his training, but finding a teacher proved to be much harder than he expected. If he spent every day at the docks, the young man found that he would have no time to search for a teacher. His only option was to see whether or not he could form a bond with this Overseer Wang.
It was with mixed feelings that Xu Min reached this conclusion. Mainly because the young boy did not trust the man at all. The fact that he accidentally gave away his real name was also something that bothered him a lot. Were this man to hear about the bounty that was placed on him then Xu Min was certain that his head would be delivered to the Zhong Family on a platter.
But at the same time, although this man was someone Xu Min did not trust, Overseer Wang was clearly an expert ranked far above Xu Min. Seeing someone with such strength caused the young boy to feel veneration and hope at the same time. He was hoping dearly that the overseer would not sell him out, and instead focus on teaching him as a disciple.
These thoughts were floating in his head all night as he cultivated. As the sun rose in the sky, painting the clouds to a beautiful purple color, Xu Min opened his eyes and saw that Overseer Wang was gone. The boy quickly locked the small house before he rushed towards the harbor.
Rushing through the alleyways, the young boy was uncertain which way he should go, but his physique was good, which allowed him to keep running at his highest speed for quite a while. At first, he ran about randomly, but as the scent of the salty seawater and fish reached his nose, the young boy rushed in the direction of the smell. He arrived just at the time the sun was finally visible above the eastern horizon.
Wang Li was already busy working in the docks. Multiple scrolls were open in his hands while he barked out orders. As soon as he saw Xu Min, a smile appeared on his face and he waved the boy towards him.
“Good job at arriving on time. Now go move all those crates with fish to that cart.” The Overseer said as he pointed to the crates and the cart.
Hearing the order, the young boy immediately did as he was told without hesitation. Xu Min was hard working. Although he started sweating, he kept working at the same pace, pushing his tired limbs to their limits. He forced his body to overcome its limitations as he constantly trained to improve his strength.
Every time his body was just about to break, it would scream in pain and agony, begging his muscles to stop working; however, when this happened, Xu Min would force himself to remember how his sister died in front of him, and how he was unable to do anything but watch. Watch, as she died. Had he been stronger back then, he should have been able to save her.
While Xu Min was busy focusing on improving his body and working hard, Wang Li was often observing the young boy with a curious gleam in his eye. Throughout the day, the overseer watched the young boy for a long time before he temporarily left his duties at the harbor and found a good friend of his, a beggar.
“Listen up, Xiao San,” He said with a smile on his face, “I need you to get me all the information you can about a boy named Xu Min. No matter what you find out about this boy, just tell me. I’ll pay a good price.”
Having asked the beggar, Wang Li rushed back to the harbor only to see that everyone was still doing their tasks as ordered, none of them slacking off in the slightest.
As the day passed and the sun started to set, Wang Li looked at the boy and gave him one last order, “Put these cases up, go back home, and start cultivating. I’ll cook when I return home.
Wang Li could not help but pat the young boy’s head while he said that and a gentle smile emerged on his face. To be honest, Wang Li usually disliked kids a lot. He hated all people who were weak-minded and easy to control, yet this boy was clearly willing to do anything to increase his strength, something that both amazed and worried the older man.
Xu Min looked at his benefactor, hesitating slightly because he had to wonder again how big of a risk it was to stay with this older man. As he pondered over this dilemma, he suddenly remembered the delicious food that was cooked for him the day before. Considering that he had eaten nothing at all the whole day and was working the entire time, his judgment was clearly clouded as he slowly walked towards the small house owned by Wang Li.
At first, Xu Min walked slowly towards his destination, but how could someone this motivated to become stronger walk slowly? He quickly increased his pace while he rushed back to the house. He traveled through all the many alleyways he had used in the morning.
Although the trip was longer than when he had followed Wang Li, it was definitely the best way for Xu Min. He could become familiar with the different alleyways he needed to use to get to the docks like this. Xu Min was the kind of person who would rather be safe and spend extra time on something than be sorry and find himself in a troublesome situation.
While Xu Min was running back to the house, Wang Li was standing at the harbor, no longer focused on the workers in front of him. He was instead leaning against a wall, seemingly in wait of someone’s arrival.
It did not take long before a poor beggar made his way towards the overseer with a sleek grin on his face.
“Overseer Wang,” He greeted, nodding his head yet showing no signs of respect apart from that. “I did as you asked and investigated this kid called Xu Min.”
“Xu Min is a fugitive from a small town within the woods. The reward for bringing his head is a hundred gold coins. As to why he is wanted, I could not determine. In spite of that, let’s split the reward, fifty-fifty. You kill him, and I will return with his head to the Zhong family who issued the bounty.”
Hearing this, Wang Li went quiet for a while, glancing at the beggar to see his expression.
“This information,” He asked with a low voice, “have you told anyone else about it?”
Hearing the question, the beggar could not help but snort in contempt. “Who do you think I am?” he asked, slightly upset, “I do not want others to steal my golden goose. Are you interested or not?”
After Wang Li heard these words, a cold gleam flashed through his eyes. Quicker than anyone was able to notice, his hand struck out, entering the chest of the beggar where his hand squeezed tightly around the beggar’s heart, turning his heart into pulp.
As Xiao San collapsed to the ground, his face was filled with shock. He had not even had a moment to let out a sound, let alone a scream.
As the man collapsed to the ground, Wang Li had long since vanished. He merged with the dark shadows of the small alleyways and made his way back to the house where the young man was awaiting his arrival.
Wang Li stopped briefly in one of the darkest alleyways where he wiped the blood off his hand with a cloth, which he then tossed away. A hard expression was present on his face, which then slowly turned back to his usual jovial look. As his appearance slowly returned to normal, the Overseer headed towards a marketplace, where he purchased ingredients for dinner.
Returning to the room, Wang Li noticed that Xu Min was seated on the ground. He was in the exact same place as he had been the previous night. A slight chuckle escaped the older man’s lips. For some reason, Wang Li took a liking to this young man, and he could not help but feeling curious about what such a young child could have done to be hunted at such a tender age.
Without disturbing the cultivating boy, Wang Li started cooking the food he had purchased. After an hour, Xu Min was unable to cultivate any further because the scent of food reminded his body how hungry it was after a whole day of hard labor, and it interrupted his concentration.
Seeing that Wang Li seemed to be contemplating something while cooking, a feeling of danger surfaced in Xu Min’s heart. Instinctively, his eyes looked towards the door as he estimated the necessary time he needed to run away.
However, before he had a chance to make even the slightest movement, Wang Li was in front of the door with a smile on his face.
“So kid, I hear your head is worth a hundred gold coins. Why don’t you tell me what you did? Depending on your answer, I might just find myself a hundred gold coins richer.”