Chapter 141: Danger Zone
"Young man, why don't you travel with us?" A rough voice asked Xu Min. Xu Min had once more approached the same caravan to gather information. "If you travel with us, we will provide you with food and shelter, alongside some money as a reward. The only thing we request is for you to help us if we should meet some bandits on the way. However, with your strength, it should be no problem to deal with any petty bandit along the way."
Xu Min considered the offer, but in the end, he shook his head. "thank you," he said politely, "but I am in a bit of a hurry. I am afraid that traveling together with the caravan will only slow me down."
In reality, he was not willing to let Cao Cao and Ye Ling stay in the jade satchel for too long or letting them join the caravan. The later option would just bring attention to himself.
Hearing the answer, the burly man who offered the position surprisingly did not become insulted. Instead, he just shrugged his shoulders. "In that case, I wish you good luck in your future endeavors. If you need something, do not hesitate to join us at the Blood Ridge Dojo. We usually make a living by guarding caravans so that you can find members of our dojo in many different cities."
"I will keep this in mind," Xu Min said with a smile. He waved at the older man before he started moving towards the vast land in front of them.
The landscape was flat as far as the eye could see. There were no trees, and the only vegetation was a few species of grass and bushes here and there.
Ambushes were impossible to succeed in these lands, but the bandits did not need to ambush. Rather, they would ride on their magical beasts and rush straight for the caravans, fighting to their heart's content and stealing all the treasure they could get their hands on.
Some of them would request a percentage of the loot and in return not fight for a way to ensure that they did not lose members. Cultivators could choose to become a bandit, and since the bandit groups were fighting between one another, they needed all the manpower they could acquire.
Caravans would meet bandits along the way, even though, they posed little threat to Xu Min, he was not willing to reveal his strength unless he had to.
If he did have to reveal his strength, he would prefer not to leave any witnesses behind. However, if he were traveling with a caravan, many would notice his extraordinary strength.
Another reason not to join the caravan was exactly what he said before. He was impatient to see Meilin again, and he was impatient to get his revenge. He did not have the time to travel at the speed of a caravan. The only reason he had been slow these couple of days was to gain information from the caravan he had been following behind recently. Now, though, he had all the information he needed. It was about time he sped up his movements.
As a cultivator, moving at high speed was possible. Consider the Xu Min’s master's speed and how fast she took him across the entire country in a mere moment. This act showed the insane speed of Immortals.
Although Xu Min was still not an Immortal, he was able to move at a speed that was in no way inferior to other eight-star Warriors. After leaving the caravan, he stopped suppressing his cultivation base; thus, increasing his speed which was like the wind.
Now that he could move as fast as the wind, Xu Min allowed for Cao Cao and Ye Ling to travel together with him. Although he would be faster if he traveled on his own since his strength was greater than the two beasts, he knew that neither of them enjoyed staying within the jade satchel. Even though he was eager to get revenge, he was not so impatient that he would sacrifice his friend's well-being.
Now with Xu Min’s speed increased, the vast landscape was traversed swiftly. They saw signs of caravans here and there. They also saw signs of battlefields. Broken caravans were spread on the area, and skeletons sprawled on the ground.
Xu Min did not even bat an eye at these things. The only thing he cared for was to get to Ri Chu City. He traveled through the very core of the danger zone, the core where the strongest bandit groups resided.
Traveling through this core was the fastest way to reach the other side of the danger zone. Nonetheless, to do that, one needed to have a very strong group of protectors.
"I fail to believe that the bandit groups have Immortals allying with them," Xu Min said with a chuckle as he continued to advance. As long as there were no Immortals, then Xu Min felt that he would be safe. Even if they were a whole group of people attacking, then he could depend on his sword to absorb energy and constantly replenish the Qi he spent.
On top of that, he had the elemental affinities and the spiritual energy. All these three powers mixed together was enough to make him unbeatable under the Immortal rank. The Immortals, on the other hand, were not so easy to deal with. However, Xu Min highly doubted that an esteemed Immortal would lower themselves to be bandits since they could get anything they wanted.
If a bandit leader did become an Immortal, it was possible for him to bring his bandit group from the danger zone and enter into one of the major cities to create a hegemon that others would not dare to look down upon. Such a faction would be many times more secure and prosperous than being a bandit.
"Well, we will have problems if you are dealing with a whole bandit group," Ye Ling remarked. "Although you can restore energy while fighting, you will receive wounds if a thousand experts throw themselves at you at the same time."
"And though you won't run out of energy, you will still sustain injuries, and these injuries will increase the longer the fight continues. Eventually, they might be possible to defeat us," Cao Cao said with a sigh. "Not to forget that neither Ye Ling nor I am capable of restoring our energy. We might end up dead sooner than you. Even if we were able to contend with the bandit groups, it would be strongly appreciated if we do not have any dealings with them."
Xu Min chuckled and nodded his head. It was true that it would require extra time to deal with bandits, but right now he was not willing to waste extra time if he could avoid it in any way possible.
Sensing that Xu Min was not going to look for trouble, both Cao Cao and Ye Ling felt relieved. Neither of them had a miraculous sword like Xu Min, nor did they have any other kind of energy than their own beast core energy. Furthermore, they were not as highly ranked as Xu Min either.
In a confrontation, both beasts would be the weakest link and would likely be the first killed on Xu Min's side.
Since Xu Min considered the beasts his brothers and knowing that they did not feel secure in the face of an army of bandits, he was even more focused on avoiding them at all costs. They had braved all manners of dangers together. Additionally, they had not hesitated to join him in his endeavor to gain revenge.
"We will try to avoid the bandits," Xu Min said with a smile as he took out the map, "but to do so, we have to leave the roads. The bandits are not able to lie in ambush anywhere but what I assume the areas they patrol. If they find us, they will consider us easy pickings since we are as few as we are," Xu Min explained while he observed the map and his surroundings.
Contemplating a short while, he ran away from the dusty road they had traversed on so far and entered into the endless wilderness.
Soon it became impossible to see them from the road as they had traveled deeper and deeper into the regions of the danger zone. Xu Min kept clear of the roads to ensure that the patrolling groups of bandits had no way of finding him.
He no longer saw any signs of humans, only some sparse vegetation. Together man and two beasts moved through the bandit lairs.
"Watch out!" Xu Min suddenly warned in a low voice and stopped in his tracks. "Hurry, hide in the jade satchel!" he ordered to Cao Cao and Ye Ling. They did exactly what Xu Min told them to.
Xu Min should be able to flee from any bandit that he encountered, and the two beasts were aware that they would drag him down. Their only option was to be out of sight and not cause problems.
"You there, halt!" a voice reverberated through the flat wilderness. Xu Min came to a halt. His cultivation base was not suppressed this time, and he had been moving at his fastest speed. Nevertheless, he was wondering who exactly was so brazen enough to try and stop him.
In the jade satchel, both Cao Cao and Ye Ling sighed. They had warned him earlier about not fighting the bandits and instead flee, but now he had stopped.
Although they sighed, they also smiled. They knew what Xu Min was like, and they did not want him any other way. "Let us see if he will fight his way through the bandits, or if they will be able to be dissuaded with words," Cao Cao said to Ye Ling who nodded his head. Together the two beasts just settled in the satchel and waited for Xu Min to once more take them out. They did not doubt that he would be fine.
Though they had warned him earlier, they truly did not think that Xu Min would lose. They had a complete and unshakeable trust in him.
"Who is it?" Xu Min asked. He was neither friendly nor hostile. He did not know the aim of whoever had approached him, and he was not willing to make enemies of anyone who he encountered.
Also, it did not sound like it was a whole group of bandits. If there had been a whole group of bandits appearing, then there was no way that Xu Min would not have noticed them. Nonetheless, somehow this individual had been capable of getting close to Xu Min without the latter noticing. That was in itself a rather miraculous feat.
"I am Lei Shen," the voice spoke, appearing in the distance. Although he was a far way off, Xu Min could still hear the voice clearly and understood that this Lei Shen was in no way an easy opponent.
Frowning, he was unsure of what to do. Should he fight this individual if he proved to be hostile, or should he preserve his strength and run away?
Looking at the figure, Xu Min's eyes widened. He was not dressed in shabby clothes like bandits. In fact, he was wearing armor. Though this armor was dirty from running through this wasteland, it was of fine quality.
"You don't look like a bandit," he unabashedly commented. Stunned as he looked at Xu Min, who frowned again. "That is because I am not," he said straightforwardly.
The man scratched his chin and seemed to be in deep thought. "I see," he said hesitantly. "I have been tasked with clearing up this area for bandits. But who would have thought that the first person I meet would not be a bandit. Can I trust your word though? Maybe you are trying to trick me? Have you ever stolen before?"
Xu Min was taken aback by the question. Suddenly he remembered his time in the Immortal Valley. Scratching his head, he was at a loss for how to answer the question.