"There is no need to thank me. You are only one more person." The Elder waved his hand. His murky eyes suddenly turned playful, and he said, "Even if you are healed, you cannot leave this place. So I might as well take you in as one of us."
"Cannot leave this place?" Ling Xian was shocked. He had a bad feeling about this, "What do you mean by that, leader?"
"I mean exactly what I have said." The Elderly stared at Ling Xian. "I have no idea how you managed to get into this place, and I do not need to know. I just want you to understand one thing: it’s easy to enter this area, but difficult to get out."
"What?" Ling Xian was shocked. Frowning, he pushed further, "Is what you are saying true?"
"Of course it’s true. There are countless beasts and monsters that make the Vast Mountains their habitats. There isn’t a single area of land that isn’t ridden with powerful beasts. Though I can see that your training isn’t weak, probably stronger than all of us villagers combined, but to try and get out of this place is a goal only an oblivious person would have." The Elder faintly smiled.
"Um…" Ling Xian’s frown tightened. If the Vast Mountains were really like what the Elder had described, then with the capabilities he had now, he definitely cannot get out. But what about his dream of riding on the tallest mountain and peering down at everyone? He would never let himself live his entire life in a little village. He would rather die than let that happen.
After a while of silence, Ling Xian asked again, "Is there no other ways?"
"The world is a big place. So is the Vast Mountains. There might be other ways, but sadly, I do not know of them. The only method I can think of is to toughen up by furthering your own training and clearing a bloody path for yourself." The Elder shook his head. Realizing the Ling Xian was looking a little grim, he sighed. "I am only telling you these things now because I want you to be mentally prepared. I’m not saying these things to bring you down."
"Thank you for the warning. Let’s put a pin in this issue and talk about it later," Ling Xian bitterly smiled and tried to ignore this whole issue that made him very annoyed.
With his wounds right now, even if he had the abilities to get out of this place, he didn’t have the strength for it. He might as well drop this whole issue and wait for his body to heal before strategizing an escape plan.
No matter what, he will not give up. No matter how dangerous the Vast Mountains were, he will put up a fight.
Noticing that despite Ling Xian’s frustration, he has not given up on the whole idea, the Elder admired the boy a little. He thought that even though he seemed to be around the same age as Su Zi, he had such a strong resolve and heart. His background definitely wasn’t simple. Perhaps he was the apprentice of someone influential.
Ling Xian whimpered a little out of pain, reminding the Elder as to why he was here. Moving his gaze to Su Zi, he asked, "Girl, three days ago I asked you gather some herbs for Hu Zi, where did you put those herbs?"
"Herbs?" Su Zi turned red again, embarrassed. "Ah, I forgot. That day, I was so focused on saving Ling Xian and bringing him back I forgot to gather the medicine that was needed for Uncle Hu Zi."
"You forgot? You forgot something that important?" The Elder’s face shook with anger. Seeing Su Zi’s red eyes, however, his heart softened again, "You, didn’t I remind you? Hu Zi needs fresh medicine every three days. Even if we forget once, his limbs will have to be amputated."
Tears filled Su Zi’s beautiful eyes. She knew the importance of the task she was assigned. She quickly stepped up and said, "Don’t be mad, grandpa, I’ll go gather those herbs right now!"
She turned to leave right away.
"It’s too late. It’ll take you an hour to go and come back. If you meet a beast, it’ll be even longer. By the time you get back, your Uncle Hu Zi’s arms will be useless." The Elder exhaled deeply and helplessly.
"What do I do then?" Su Zi was crying at this point and blamed herself, "This is all my fault! How could I be so careless? If Uncle Hu Zi’s arms really do become useless, then I am the one to blame!"
"Su Zi, don’t panic. Why don’t you start by telling me about your Uncle Su Zi’s injuries?" Ling Xian spoke suddenly. He understood that three days ago, Su Zi went to the mountains to gather herbs for Hu Zi, but she stumbled into Ling Xian and brought him home instead of finding the needed herbs.
This situation was related to him, as Su Zi only forgot about the herbs because she was too busy saving him.
"Uncle Hu Zi’s injuries are serious. A few days ago, he went out hunting, and a beast broke both of his arms. He needs to apply external medicine eight times if we want to save his arms. Today was supposed to be the last time. Without those herbs, we can’t do anything, and it would mean that we wasted all our previous efforts." Su Zi’s eyes were red as tears silently rolled down her cheeks.
"Oh, so only his arms are broken." Ling Xian sighed in relief. Seeing Su Zi crying, he gently nudged. "Alright, stop crying. I thought it was a very serious illness. Don’t worry. I can deal with something like this."
"You can deal with it?" Su Zi froze.
"That’s right. Here, this medicinal Dan, take it and give it to your Uncle Hu Zi. He will recover soon after consuming it." Ling Xian smiled kindly. Waving his arm, the Dan of Life and Growth instantly flew to Su Zi’s hands.
"Can… can this really cure Uncle Hu Zi?" looking at the white medicinal Dan, Su Zi wasn’t fully convinced.
The Elder, however, was overjoyed. Even though he’s never walked out of the Vast Mountains his whole life, decades ago, he met a cultivator from the external society and seen with his own eyes the effects of a medicinal Dan. Watching Ling Xian giving the item to Su Zi, he felt at ease. "Su Zi, even though I don’t know the name of this medicinal Dan, but since Ling Xian is giving it to you, then I am certain it will cure your Uncle Hu Zi’s arms."
Hearing this, Su Zi was reassured. Anticipation filled her eyes.
"Don’t worry. This Dan is called the Dan of Life and Growth. It’s one of the best ones out of all eighth-ranked Dans. It’s very effective at treating external injuries. It will for sure help your uncle." Ling Xian grinned. His handsome face was glistening with confidence.
"Eight-ranked Dan?" the Elder gasped in shock. He didn’t know the true worth of an eighth-ranked Dan, but the cultivator he met decades ago used a ninth-ranked Dan. Despite its rank, it was enough to overwhelm the Elder.
Ling Xian’s eighth-ranked Dan shocked the Elder. At the same time, it confirmed his guess regarding Ling Xian’s background. He definitely was the apprentice of someone influential, or else there would be no way he would have his hands on such a valuable spiritual Dan.
"Grandpa, are eighth-ranked Dans expensive?" Su Zi asked after seeing her Grandpa’s astounded face.
"It’s very expensive. Though to the outside society, it might not be much. But to us here, it’s a priceless treasure. If we use it right, we can save many lives," the Elder’s face was serious.
"Wow, that priceless?!" Su Zi gasped. Even though she could not truly understand the degree of an eighth-ranked medicinal Dan, but the idea that it might save many lives hit her heart like a heavy hammer.
The Vast Mountains were a dangerous place. Every time the men go out to hunt, someone gets hurts, and many even die. If having the Dan means many lives would be saved, then it must be precious.
Holding onto the Dan of Life and Growth, Su Zi hesitated. "Ling Xian, this is too valuable. I can’t accept this."
"Take it. It’s just a medicinal Dan." Ling Xian faintly smiled, "Don’t you want to save Uncle Hu Zi?"
"I…" Su Zi was still very hesitant. She looked over to her grandpa, hoping he would make a decision for her.
The Elder stroke his beard and laughed. "Take it. We should save Hu Zi. Even though this Dan is precious, to Ling Xian, it’s probably nothing."
"Okay. Thank you, Ling Xian." Su Zi beamed brightly.
Staring at the beautiful and the tender young girl, Ling Xian could sense her innocence and kindness. He couldn’t help it but whisper, "There is no need to be so polite with me. You saved my life after all."
"Give me the medicinal Dan," the Elder suddenly said.
Su Zi nodded and handed the Dan of Life and Growth to her grandpa.
Taking over the white, medicinal Dan, the Elder took out a small knife from his chest pocket and carefully divided the Dan into two. He gave half to Su Zi and kept the other half, "Half of a Dan is enough to treat your Uncle Hu Zi. Keep the other half safe for me. We will use it when someone gets really hurt. This is a very valuable eighth-ranked Dan. We must use it carefully."
Noticing how nervous the Elder was, Ling Xian felt waves of strong sentiment. He could tell by their actions that this Dan, something that was almost worthless to him, was a treasure in his eyes.
From this event, he could also tell how behind in time the Barren Village really was. He could even make the claim that all the villages in the Vast Mountains were.
"Our actions must be laughable. Eighth-ranked medicinal Dans to us are very valuable. If we use it right, we can save many lives. I divided it into two because I don’t plan on using it unless I have to." The Elder noticed Ling Xian’s thoughts and smiled matter of factly. He wasn’t at all embarrassed.
"There is a method of survival for every level of beings. There is no need to be humble, and I have no reason to laugh," Ling Xian said seriously. He was an orphan who could not train as a child. He ate one bun a day for many years. Of course, he didn’t think the Elder’s actions were laughable.
Surprise flashed across the Elder’s eyes, "To say such things, you either experienced too much, or you’ve had hard days as well."
Ling Xian returned a small grin. He didn’t want to discuss this any further, so he attempted to change the subject. "Why not try to get out of this wilderness?"
"I’ve tried. But like I said, the Vast Mountains are far too dangerous. With our level of training, it’s impossible. On top of that, all our ancestors have lived here, and we’ve had generations after generations here. Many people are used to this life, and many do not want to leave." The Elder sighed. It was obvious that he wanted to get out the wilderness, but for many reasons, he could not leave.
"I see." Ling Xian nodded.
"I am certain that you can see I am a mere seventh-ranked cultivator. Even so, I am the highest ranked cultivator here. With our capabilities, we would be wiped out before we could reach inside the mountains." The Elder helpless chuckled.
Ling Xian was silent. As the Elder said, he saw that the Elder was only a seventh-ranked cultivator. What he didn’t expect though, was that he was the strongest man in this village. If that’s the case, then the village’s capabilities really weren’t great.
What a weak mess.
Ling Xian’s silence made the Elder smile. "Alright, we will go tend to Hu Zi’s wounds and stop bothering you. Please rest well."
He then dragged the unwilling to leave Su Zi out of the room.
Watching the two of them getting further and further away, Ling Xian sighed deeply. "It seems like I will have to live here for a while. It’s even possible that I will never get out in this lifetime." 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2020 So Far