Chapter 130: Barren Land
Xu Min, Cao Cao, and Ye Ling made their way out of the Immortal Valley only to find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Everywhere they looked the ground was filled with cracked dry earth. No plants grew in this desolate land; no shade could be found from the scorching hot sun which burned down from above. No signs of life at all were to be seen. This place was the complete opposite of the Immortal Valley which had been filled with prosperity.
"We need to pass this," Xu Min said. Determined he looked ahead and the other two just nodded their heads soundlessly. Although they were all determined, they also felt that this barren land was far more dangerous than their previous trip trough the Immortal Valley.
"There are mountains not far away from us," Xu Min said as he pointed straight ahead, looking at a chain of mountains which were covered in snow. Their peaks were so high up that they were covered in the clouds.
"If we can make it to those mountains then we should be free of this barren land," Xu Min continued and with a resolute step forward did he move towards the mountains.
Cao Cao and Ye Ling quickly followed suit. However, as they moved closer to the mountains, it seemed the closer they moved to the mountain, the further away they seemed to be. It seemed as if they were staying right at the edge of the Immortal Valley. To be honest, their feet did not move even the slightest as they moved towards the mountains.
"It might be tricking us. It takes a long time for it to reach the mountain. Perhaps a thousand steps are just one step. “No matter, let us continue forward!" Xu Min sighed. He had gotten so far that he was not willing to give up now. Thus he continued step after step forward. However, no matter how many steps they took, nothing happened.
They had already walked for a full day when Xu Min finally stopped. His body was soaked in sweat his breathing ragged. He had walked under the sun for a full day without a break. The barren land had been unwelcoming, and a strong wind had consistently blown sand and dust into his face, making breathing difficult.
Almost as if collapsing, Xu Min sat down on the ground and heaved a heavy breath of air as he contemplated his possibilities.
"Tonight we should return to the Immortal Valley. It is easier to relax in there, and we will be able to hunt for food." Xu Min finally decided with a sigh and stood up with much trouble. Turning around and taking one step towards the Immortal Valley, his eyes enlarged at the sight he saw and instantly frowned.
At first, he was stunned by what he saw, but soon after, this stunned expression turned to one of gratitude.
"I get it!" He exclaimed, "I finally get it!"
The one step he had taken towards the Immortal Valley had turned him one step further away from the Immortal Valley and one step closer to the mountain range.
Every step he took forward, every single step towards the Immortal Valley brought him further and further away. Even though the travel was filled with discomfort, violent gales and scraping sand, it was not something that Xu Min could not withstand. Slowly he had managed to reach halfway through the barren land in a single night.
By the time the sun was starting to break through the sky, Ye Ling and Cao Cao were already exhausted. They did not have a rank as high as Xu Min had. Thus they could not continue the travels for as long as he could, and they decided to pause and relax for some time.
Xu Min found some provisions which he shared with his friends after which he ate his portion. No one spoke since as soon as they opened their mouth sand and dust would fill it. Thankfully, they did not need to speak to understand one another anyways.
Although they were going through an uncomfortable situation, they understood that it was needed to be able to succeed in fully escaping the land of the elves and fairies.
Everyone was filled with excitement as they sat down under the scorching hot sun. They were just relaxing and waiting for the calm and cold night to return. Although the nights were freezing, they were easier to move through than the scorching hot day.
While the heat made Ye Ling sweat and pant because of his thick fur, Cao Cao was laying sprawled out on the ground absorbing all the heat in his body. He was changing it to energy which he then would store within every single inch of his body.
Cao Cao was a snake. Though his body was filled with Qi, it required more energy to move through the night than it did to move through the day. The cold frustrated him as much as the heat frustrated Ye Ling.
Having rested the entire day, they continued onwards as soon as the sun started to set. Just like before, they took one step after another towards the Immortal Valley, in turn, causing them to become farther away from the valley and closer to the mountains.
In the beginning, Xu Min was dizzy due to paradoxical space. Nevertheless, the more he walked within it, the more his body got used to it. Soon he could walk naturally without becoming stomach sick. The two beasts did not seem troubled with the twisting space; as the sun rose in the sky, they finally managed to almost reaching the mountains.
As they were almost there, Xu Min continued forward through the day, but their speed was slowed drastically due to Ye Ling's difficulty in handling the heat.
The wind was becoming less troublesome, and the heat slowly subsided as well. A new wind came, bringing with it chilled air. The group of three had made their way out of the barren land, and their feet landed on a snow-covered mountainside.
The difference between the barren land and the snow covered mountain was so obvious that one knew there was some kind of formation keeping the two places apart. Even so, Xu Min did not have the time truly to care because he was rejoicing. Grateful they had finally gotten away from the scorching heat and paradoxical reality, they all rested for a little bit.
Xu Min quickly grabbed some of the white snow and used it to clear his face with, allowing a freshness to fill his body. Although they were standing in a snow covered area, it was not freezing. The sun was still shining high up in the sky, and Cao Cao was seemingly not touched by the cold snow.
"Let us continue!" Xu Min said. He finally turned around and walked normally again. He almost sighed in praise for how comfortable this felt when he noticed signs of humans around him.
"They aren't here right now," he mumbled, looking at the footsteps in the snow, "but they were here. Let us get out of this place as soon as possible." he continued. Both Ye Ling and Cao Cao agreed. Neither of the three wished to be found so close to the border of the elves and fairies territory by humans. Although no one knew that they were elves or fairies, everyone was extra cautious when it came to the Immortal Valley and their inhabitants.
Just as Xu Min thought he could sneak past the mountain, he heard a terrible low voice growl at him, "move, and you will die."
Behind the voice, there were powerful ripples of Qi, Qi which was no weaker than Xu Min's own but was not much stronger either.
"If we really are to fight, I am not sure who of us will be at a disadvantage," Xu Min mumbled beneath his breath. Even though he was new to being an eight-star warrior, he had many tricks up his sleeve which could help him in a real battle and make up for his lack of Qi compared to a more seasoned eight-star Warrior.
Not only this, Xu Min was not alone. By his side was Cao Cao and Ye Ling, both of them currently baring their teeth. Their entire demeanor was one willing to fight.
"Don't think that you are the one who has the advantage of numbers," the low, dangerous voice growled. With a wave of the man's hand, a dozen men appeared on the white snow covered mountain side.
Although these men are not as strong as the man speaking, they were all at least the sixth or seventh rank. Nevertheless, Xu Min did not panic. Instead, an ice-cold smile spread on his lips, a smile filled with killing intent.
To Xu Min, it was not a difficult task to deal with a dozen of men at a time. If anything they would be a great assistance to him since he could absorb their energy and boost his own attacks.
The man who had been speaking furrowed his brows as he saw Xu Min’s expression change. He did not seem to despair; instead, he seemed like some king of hell who had appeared out of nowhere, ready to punish them for ambushing him.
"Wait a minute. We might not have to fight," he suddenly said, lessening the threat in his voice, "We cannot allow anyone to sneak into the grounds belonging to the Immortal Valley since they will punish us if we do. However, you seem to be going another way," he stated sighfully.
Had he not felt the sudden sense of danger from Xu Min, or he would already have killed both him and the two beasts instantly. Nonetheless, right now he feared for his and his men's safety, and thus he chose to try and negotiate with the intruders.
The men who had surrounded Xu Min all looked at one another with surprise and shock. Xu Min's face was not hidden; his youth clearly visible for all to see. Although he was stronger than them, they could not believe he was stronger than their leader.
Xu Min was uncertain of what to do. He wanted just to leave as soon as he could. He was in a hurry, and the best plan was to avoid injury. However, he also knew that these people did not have any qualms about killing them right away.
"We got lost. We have no intention of entering the Immortal Valley. All we want is to leave this place as soon as possible. We are not even sure of where we are," Xu Min said more or less honestly. He did not say that they came from the Immortal Valley as he knew that that would cause them to doubt his real reason to be there.
Anyone who entered and left the Immortal Valley did so through the portals that the Elders controlled. Exiting the other way would imply that they were running from something. This was not his intention to have these men deliver him straight back to the academy.
"I see. We will lead you to a town where there we will part ways," the man with the dangerous and low voice said, but Xu Min shook his head.
"I do not trust just yet. I know you would have killed me already was it not for the sake of me being just a bit stronger than you expected. What am I to do if you lead me straight towards a stronghold filled with cultivators? How am I to survive that?"
Every word Xu Min said was true, and it made the expressions on the others turn serious and rather grim. Even if they did not plan on actually killing him now, because it would cost them a lot of manpower themselves, they might want to overwhelm him in another situation.
"We will not tie you up, nor will we ask you to walk with our group. Stay behind us so that you can always escape if you get the feeling we are tricking you," the man continued. This time his voice held a bit of annoyance with it. He had no other options. Yes, he believed in his power to defeat Xu Min, but he also believed in Xu Min's ability to kill anyone else here.